Hot video: Possibly the most horrible piano recital of the year

Hot video: Possibly the most horrible piano recital of the year


norman lebrecht

January 02, 2014

This is Yundi Li on China television playing an acrobatic version of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumblebee. The video was swiftly removed from its original Chinese site but a kindly soul has uploaded it on Youtube where Yundi’s legions of fans will rush it into the millions before the day is out. Unless it gets removed again. Watch, and wonder.


And another version:


  • Drinking again? Yundi does Tom Waits. 😉

  • Donald Wright says:

    Good God. That was just awful. Naturally the audience of future pianists applauded uproariously, because the performance exhibited that characteristic highly valued in that part of the world: lots of notes (in this case, not even accurate ones) with no expression.

    • Elur says:

      I just wonder how well you know “that part of the world” and what they highly value to make this comment…

  • Felt like a lot longer than 2:02 minutes…

  • John Soloninka says:

    Sounds like he was drunk or stoned!? Those were not mistakes of someone trying to push the limit and play beyond his considerable ability. This was a wandering mind and uncontrolled fingers in even simple sections. With the poor camera angle and poor sound…it occurred to me that this was not Yundi Li…but a poor replacement.

  • Ralph says:

    Stage needs more light effects, way too subtle.

  • Michael says:

    Maybe it was a (n inebriated) bet…?

  • Conor says:

    Truly wonderAWful!!

    (No fans defending him here yet?)

  • m3n3k says:

    he’s been playing like this all around the world for years

    refer to for one example

  • Warren Cohen says:

    Yundi Li just had a really bad day. It happens, and in the internet age it will be preserved forever. He may be, based on the Singapore review and some other things, simply a technically erratic pianist. Or maybe he has stopped practicing recently. Given his “rivalry” he better spend some time in the practice room. Lang Lang is musically eccentric and sometimes ridiculous but I have only heard him mess up technically in some silly two-piano Rhapsody in Blue with Herbie Hancock where he was clearly sight-reading.Generally, he seems to keep himself in shape.

    • Steve Fentress says:

      I don’t know this pianist, but I too am willing to give him a break. He’s a young guy, and it’s one crazy encore in a situation that doesn’t look conducive to subtlety or concentration. If he does this to Rach 3 then I have a problem.

  • anon says:

    This performance could have been improved by the presence of Wang LeeHom…

  • Ignacio says:

    What a horror. I have seen him live in recital and he is plainly dreadful, playing as if by numbers. He thrives in audiences who do not know better.

  • Steve says:

    strictly speaking this isn’t a recital [ “possibly the most horrible piano recital of the year”]

    Perhaps this was an encore which mis-fired and the rest of the recital was scintillating.

  • Charles says:

    I think the applause was for the confetti cannons.

  • cabbagejuice says:

    Sounds more like the “Attack of the Angry Wasps”.

  • So, mine is not that bad – Without rehearsal , we just agreed with the tonality before playing , after 1:30 recital –

  • Doug says:

    Needs more pedal.

  • David Boxwell says:

    A very early nominee for the 2014 Slipped Disc “Smacked Arse” Award!

  • Quite honestly, I find it amazing that such technically accomplished players can play that badly.

  • Doug says:

    FRIGHT of the Bumblebee.

  • Christos says:

    Doug, your comment made me laugh to tears! Regardless of whether the double pun (with the typical Japanese pronunciation impediment) was intentional or not and regardless of political correctness, this is the best quick joke I’ve heard in ages!

  • I think the bad quality of the record ruined it,what about this,It’s a practice ,Yundi is very relaxing,almost don’t move his body

    • Eunis R. says:

      record does not ruin a pianist, stop practice does. this is just a little bit better than the horror in the circus show above and LOOKS LIKE a pianist performance.

  • Florence Foster Jenkins has been reincarnated!

  • …and Jonathan Edwards, too!

  • Rosalind says:

    Is there a “Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Pianos” in China?

  • Stephen Liljegren says:

    The master of the baritone saxophone, Gerry Mulligan, wrote a piece called “Blight of the Fumble Bee. That title perhaps could have applied in this case(s).

  • David Edwards says:

    Perhaps he’s been seeking inspiration from this source …

  • maulee says:

    when you lost love, you lost soul.

  • David H. says:

    It’s not a recital obviously, just a circus show number. After him they had naked elephants dancing to Grieg’s ‘Cave of the Mountain King’.

  • Oh dear, the Chinese audience loved it. No “Kenner” among them I guess. Are you sure it’s Lundi?

  • wow,I found these two today,both practice in his own home,

    home style 1-Flight of the Bumblebee

    home style 2-Beethoven Sonata No. 23 in F Minor, Op. 57 “Appassionata” – 3. Allegro ma non troppo – Presto

  • Allysen says:

    Looks like he enjoyed it much, and he was not humiliated by his own performance at all…what a strong mind

  • Charles says:

    Just found yundi‘s Chinese fans so funny. Seems that they don’t care how he played and keep trying sell this guy to everyone else, very similar to Beliebers lol

  • Halldor says:

    Loved the stage and lighting. Reminiscent of some of Karajan’s specially-filmed Beethoven performances from the 1980s.

  • Kublai Kahn says:

    When will all the pushing and promoting of lousy, second-rate, unartistic Chinese musicians end? It is only killing opportunity for real artists. There is only so much room. China produces musicians like they do goods for dollar stores and everywhere else. Shoddy, shoddy, shoddy. It is a fiendish plan by their government to undermine the West in every way.

    • David H. says:

      You must be joking. Chinese musicians are promoted by Western businesses, namely Universal, to make money FOR Western businesses FROM consumers all over the world, namely also FROM the Chinese consumers themselves.

      Opportunities for real artists are always there. Just not in the business that is about selling music to the masses… because that business does not care about art in the first place.

      A real artist can call himself successful if he finds an audience that enables him to make a decent living above the level of poverty. Anything else and you are selling your soul to Mephistopheles.