The five-star Chinese pianist we’ve never heard of

The five-star Chinese pianist we’ve never heard of


norman lebrecht

August 04, 2014

She’s a legend in France, with a best-selling biography and packed recitals – whenever she cares to give them. But outside France, where she has lived for 30 years, Zhu Xiao-Mei is a shadowy, enigmatic figure, seldom heard and recognised by very few.

Zhu Xiao-Mei only plays the summits of the western repertoire. Her performance of Bach’s Art of the Fugue, newly out on Accentus, exists philosophically in a world of its own. It is my five-star Album of the Week on Click here.


We understand that she is planning a return to China in the coming season, the first since she left in 1980.


  • Dr Peter Lim says:

    many thanks Norman–you are superb!

  • Fabio Luisi says:

    Excellent recordings of Goldberg Variations, Wohltemperiertes Klavier et al. – and her book “The Secret Piano” (as audiobook) are available on iTunes.

  • Geoff Radnor says:

    Yes, her Goldberg is on Youtube, very worth listening to, one of the greats.

  • Richard Grossman says:

    Speak for yourself! I’ve heard of her, she’s part of that famous gang of Chinese artists and intellectuals who’ve chosen the French Republic over the People’s Republic.
    Her Well-Tempered Klav and recordings of Mozart are on Mirare and have been available in the UK for some time, fab stuff! Good on you to give her more attention though.