Sky's the Limit for youngster Yu

Forecasting long-term success on the concert platform is a notoriously uncertain exercise. Often, young musicians will streak across the concert firmament like incandescent comets, only to sputter out disappointingly after an all-too-brief time before the public.

Why, then, do I believe that Avan Yu is likely to maintain a career of distinction?

On the evidence of his playing in the various stages of the 2012 Sydney International Piano Competition last month and, especially, at his Monday recital of Schumann's Fantasie in C. Yu, 25, is clearly greatly gifted. But while he is second to few in the glittering virtuosity of which he is capable at the keyboard, there is also - and this is far more important - an ability to probe and reveal the inner depths of whatever he plays which is far more suggestive of the real McCoy than the surface prestidigitation that too often is all that many a young, hotshot piano player aspires to.

In the finale of the Fantasie, for instance, one sensed that what we were listening to was not so much communication between pianist and audience but rather a form of profound communion between pianist and composer. It was the quintessence of stillness and calm which reminded me of the playing of Moiseiwitsch - and praise doesn't get much higher than that.

Book I of Debussy's Etudes, villainously complex and seldom appearing on programs for that reason, provided unforgettable listening. Here, a myriad subtle tonal shadings, immaculate, intricate fingerwork and more than a hint of poetry made magic of music that usually defeats all but the most accomplished of pianists.

Then more bedazzlement as this young, Canada-based pianist steered a near-faultless way through Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No.12.

Yu opened his recital with an exquisite, lulling account of Chopin's Barcarolle - and, as encore, we heard the same composer's Etude in E from opus 10, its hackneyed notes here sounding newly minted and the acme of tranquillity. Bravissimo!

Neville Cohn, West Australian
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