Breaking: Yundi crashes in Chopin concerto

There’s a huge media storm brewing in Korea and China over Yundi Li, who broke down in Seoul during the first movement of a Chopin concerto.

The Sydney Symphony Orchestra reportedly stopped and the movement was retaken. Yundi later shunned the after-concert signing.

Here’s how it sounded:

yundi crash

And here’s what’s raging on social media, with fans demanding their money back. More here in English-language Korean media, which claims that ‘It was not only Yundi’s mistakes that the audience couldn’t seem to shake, but rather his attitude toward conductor David Robertson during the orchestra’s sudden pause, in which the pianist appeared to shift the blame for his tempo mistakes onto the maestro.’

And here‘s a summary from Chinese media (in English)

Early eyewitness reports from Korea, on which our original post was based, have now proved to be over-excited and we have toned down the post accordingly. But that’s the risk with Yundi, who generates intense interest.

 

UPDATE: The Sydney concertmaster Andrew Haveron clarifies:

We performed this concerto the previous day in Daegu. The performance went smoothly and was greeted rapturously by the audience who were clearly fans of his. The next day, in Seoul, he simply took a wrong turn and our harmonic progressions parted company (there is little else for an orchestra to do accompanying a Chopin concerto!). He tried to find his way back in, but in a piece such as this – where the soloist carries 90% of the musical argument – I can fully understand how difficult it is to find your way back into the middle of a long paragraph. He tried heading for the exit (musically speaking) by playing a couple of cadential bars prior to what he hoped was the next tutti.. But found the wrong tutti. You can hear my colleague Dene Olding valiantly come in with the next tutti entrance (from memory – we had a page or two to go) but that wasn’t the key our soloist had reached (he, I think, had found the very end of the movement, whilst we were still in the development). Thus things came to a stand still – without any say so or interference from our conductor – and Yundi bravely decided to try it all over again, this time with success. We finished the performance and the applause was generous and supportive. He declined to play an encore, but he had declined the previous day too.
He did not leave the stage until the end, and I am unaware of any blame being laid at anyone else.
It is a shame that this is the only bit of the concert available to hear – I cannot imagine that this is a legal recording. It has clearly been made available through schadenfreude alone.

2nd UPDATE: Yundi apologises here.

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  • young says:

    I think you’d better doublecheck the fact. As far as I know, they resumed the concerto again even though overall performance was terrible.

    • Kee says:

      The video hardly reveal any mistake made by Yundi. It is even strange that this video has been removed. So, did Yundi stop the performance as claimed here or is it actually the conductor who stopped the performance? From what I read from the Chinese media, it was the conductor David Robertson who stopped the performance because he thought Yundi was too fast for him to conduct the orchestra properly.

      • Kee says:

        The conductor that night was David Robertson, but why should the Sydney concertmaster Andrew Haveron clarifies here? What I read from the Chinese media is very different from the story given here by Andrew Haveron. From what I read, it was the conductor David Robertson who stopped the performance simply because he was unable to catch up with Yundi’s fast playing. Yundi was rather annoyed with the conductor for the interruption. But Andrew Haveron wrote here that Yundi had stopped the performance. To be fair to Yundi, I think the conductor David Robertson should come here to clarify himself in an honest way instead of sending Andrew Haveron here to distort the fact that shame Yundi even more. Who is Andrew Haveron? I hope there is no Impostor here.

        Why must Yundi apologize for the conductor’s wrong doing? Because he had to obey the instruction given by the Secret Agent of communist China since 2008. Very few people know the kind of life Yundi has lived since 2008. By the way, the present Chinese leader General Secretary Xi Jingpin has nothing to with the conduct of these evil people.

        Yundi has been controlled by the Secret Agent of communist China since 2008 for some selfish reason of the Secret Agent. What do you think is the reason for Yundi to disappear from the world arena after 2008 while he was at the peak of his career? This Secret Agent had actually forced him to stay away from the outside world for sometimes during 2009. He was not even allowed to have contact with his family during that time. I suspect that he was more or less under some kind of house arrest during that time. It is hard for the people living in a democratic country to understand that this kind of thing could happen to any individual. When he finally re-merged in 2010, he had become totally a YES man to this Secret Agent – being very scared of this evil people. Against his will, he had to mix himself with pop song singers, fashion designers etc etc. He was even forced to interrupt his duty as a judge of Chopin piano competition to fly back to China in order to attend a wedding of an Chinese actor. He had completely lost his freedom. He has to say and do whatever he was told.

        The Secret Agent had planned all these so that it may look as if Yundi has lost interest in classical music and that he has become so deteriorated in his playing that he often makes tons of mistakes. The Secret Agent has a troop of posters to verify all such claims at many websites. People who are able to think logically refuse to believe all such nonsense claimed by these posters. Listen to Yundi’s CD’s , how can all such claims be true if Yundi ‘s is able to play so well? This Secret Agent is also quite capable of controlling reporters and media which often slandered Yundi and Yundi was not supposed to deny anything claimed by such reporters.

        It will be useless trying to get any truth from Yundi’s lips as his lips has been completely sealed – after being terrified by this Secret Agent.

        You know that some information given here is not true. For example,, in the apology delivered by Yundi, he said that after checking with the organizer of the concert, there was no such thing as audiences trying to ask for a refund. But the story given here is very different. Obviously, there has been too much lies going around.

        In the same apology, he also mentioned about checking through the posts dropped by some Korean audiences who had attended the performance. I believe Yundi was trying to tell the world that although he had to apologize, people can only get the truth from the posts dropped by some Korean audiences as who was to be blamed for the mishap that night..

        I have watched Yundi’s development closely since his winning of first prize of Chopin piano competition. He is such a good interpreter of classical music that I even wrote some reviews for his CD’s at Amazon using the nick name Kee. Having read all the news from the Chinese media for the past fifteen years regarding Yundi’s problems, I understand the intensity of the rivalry feeling between him and the other pianist.

        • Kee says:

          Shame on these people for bringing this fake video to Youtube for the troop of the posters of the Secret Agent of communist China to drop posts there in order to destroy Yundi. For the purpose of not giving me any chance to refute their evil claims against Yundi, I have not been able to register myself at Youtube to drop any post there for more .than ten years. I am also banned by many websites to make any comment – that includes Yundi’s facebook. I was even denied access to Amazon to write reviews for Yundi’s CDs at one time. It was through the advertisements sent by Amazon to my email box that I finally gained access to Amazon. But because of the harassment of the Secret Agent of China, I have stopped writing review for Yundi for the past three years. I can see that their plan is to make the reviews written for Yundi becoming less and less so that it may look as if people have gradually lost interest in Yundi. Do you know that they have actually engaged many reviewers to write reviews for Yundi at Amazon and many newspapers? You can see how determined these people are in trying to destroy Yundi especially after Yundi was included in the panel of judges for the Chopin piano competition.

  • Angela says:

    The fact is, Yundi got lost, the Conductor stopped the orchestra, but soon they finished the concerto anyway.

    The horrible part is, cancelling the after-concert fan event, Yundi returned to the hotel without mentioning anything including an apology and posted a photo of his halloween costume on his facebook (on the same night!) with a comment “I’m gonna freak you out tommorrow!”

    Ironically, he obvisouly has freaked the audiences out that day.

  • Andrew Haveron says:

    There are many distortions of fact here. I was on stage:
    We performed this concerto the previous day in Daegu. The performance went smoothly and was greeted rapturously by the audience who were clearly fans of his. The next day, in Seoul, he simply took a wrong turn and our harmonic progressions parted company (there is little else for an orchestra to do accompanying a Chopin concerto!). He tried to find his way back in, but in a piece such as this – where the soloist carries 90% of the musical argument – I can fully understand how difficult it is to find your way back into the middle of a long paragraph. He tried heading for the exit (musically speaking) by playing a couple of cadential bars prior to what he hoped was the next tutti.. But found the wrong tutti. You can hear my colleague Dene Olding valiantly come in with the next tutti entrance (from memory – we had a page or two to go) but that wasn’t the key our soloist had reached (he, I think, had found the very end of the movement, whilst we were still in the development). Thus things came to a stand still – without any say so or interference from our conductor – and Yundi bravely decided to try it all over again, this time with success. We finished the performance and the applause was generous and supportive. He declined to play an encore, but he had declined the previous day too.
    He did not leave the stage until the end, and I am unaware of any blame being laid at anyone else.
    It is a shame that this is the only bit of the concert available to hear – I cannot imagine that this is a legal recording. It has clearly been made available through schadenfreude alone.

    • Bickfords says:

      Thank you for a true run down of events, and great integrity shown by Olding in an attempt to salvage it. Real professional.

    • Edgar Brenninkmeyer says:

      Thank you, Andrew, for providing the facts. Facts, unfortunately, do no longer matter much once a shitstorm has developed and is taking its disastrous course.

      Mistakes happen, even on the concert stage (I witnessed such event many years ago, with Homero Francesh losing his way in a Mozart concerto, Herbert Blomstedt on the podium conducting the Frankfurt Radio Symphony. They stopped, regaind common ground, and then soldiered on).

      I look forward to the day when all devices are banned from performances, if only to prevent the spread of half truths.

    • Yujin says:

      are you sure? but people in Korea seems not. http://live.media.daum.net/issue/yundi they are saying even though ochestra was waiting and people applaused he didnt come back and he had to cancel his autogragh event and so on . I was not there I only read this comments of Korea but I doubt what you are saying

      • bratschegirl says:

        You do realize how ridiculous you sound, asking that evening’s concertmaster if he’s sure he knows what happened better than the anonymous hordes of the Internet?

        • Yujin says:

          he is anonymous here too and it is not just one or two korean people who witnessed and said what happened. you seems to see what you want to see.

          • MWnyc says:

            No, he’s not anonymous. His name, Andrew Haveron, is right there at the top of his post.

          • Anthony says:

            I was also onstage in this performance, and Andrew’s comments are exactly what happened!
            I suggest that Yujin should properly check his facts!!!

    • RW2013 says:

      Schadenfreude ist alles.

    • norman lebrecht says:

      Thank you, Andrew. I was acting on information received from Korea. I will update the story accordingly.

      • Max Grimm says:

        Taking into account the above post by “YUJIN”, it seems that Mr. Li did not come back out to take a bow after the concert was over but went straight off stage and then went missing.

    • All Keyed Up says:

      From the recording, one can hear that Yundi handled the matter with grace and aplomb. Forgetting and having to stop during a concerto is a soloist’s worst nightmare, yet he pulled himself together quickly, he went back to where the trouble began, and then soldiered on through. Yundi is to be commended for his professionalism in a moment of crisis, rather than pilloried for something that can happen to any artist at any time. Human beings aren’t machines. Bravo Yundi.

  • Toby Thatcher says:

    Mr Lebrecht. I appreciate your constant desire to instigate debate, but I suggest you stay away from the fantasy genre, it doesn’t suit you. I also suggest you hire a new fact-checker. For anyone who wants a decent report on a regrettable (but hardly unheard of) incident, I recommend Andrew’s above.

  • Yujin says:

    also people said that he stopped playing in the middle of the performance because he forgot and he tried to catch up but fail so stopped.

  • Yujin says:

    people in Korea said his atitude was also a problem he made mistake by himself but his gesture was blaming orchestra . in the middle of performance , he forgot some so he tried to catch up but fail and it sounded weird so orchestra had to STOP and they started again.

    • Ash says:

      You have been constantly posting things that have been clarified by Andrew. I wonder what’s your intention here.

      • Yujin says:

        I am just saying what I heard and you are too. then what is your attention? are you related? I can say what I heard too I want to know your attention. just believeing one side of story and defend him?? many people in Korea are saying it can happen he is a human too he can do mistakes but his attitude was more problem. they dont say like that with no reason.

        • Yujin says:

          also before i reply for you I didn’t CONSTANTLY posted like you said. If you see a post time you will see. constanly sounds very suspicious and intentional like you meant to make my word look suspicious.I dont think it is appropriate that you said that to someone who posted the word that you disagree OR you don’t want to believe. suspicious one is you. you are the one who try to defend him without knowing what happened. then domyou think that korean people all lying about what happened?

  • Nicholas Bostock says:

    As usual nothing more than cheap gossip, shameful Norman. Cheap exploitation of an unfortunate incident, Yundi is an excellent pianist and the same has happened to many of us. Once again, shameful and cheap Norman.

  • Nick says:

    In US, Li is known to orchestral musicians and conductors who have worked with him that he is highly unreliable in performances. Yet, he is such a snobbish and dishonest person that he would always try to make the musicians and conductors to look as if they were the cause for his mistakes. While memory slips by major soloists are rare, it should not be held as scandals, because we are all humans. However, for this particular individual, “schadenfreude” is well deserved. It is a sad testament of the audience in Asia when a great orchestra, SSO, and conductor, Robertson, have to take this kind fraudster on tour as an attraction.

    • Ash says:

      Then people who gave him this so many honors and recognitions must be blind and deaf I guess?

    • Ash says:

      By the way, i put “li yundi” and “unreliable” in google and, guess what, I cannot find any conductor in the US blaming him for “unreliable”. So would you mind to enlighten me on your accusation?

      • Nick says:

        Of course you woudn’t know this because you are not a professional musician playing in a top orchestra in America….

        • ysudbin says:

          I on the other hand am a professional musician in the US and have played with Yundi two times (but several years ago it was). That Yundi is considered unreliable in the US is fantasy and malicious. In fact he has not played in the US that often in recent years so how would he even have such a reputation is a myster.

    • Olassus says:

      Many orchestras take a soloist on tour to attract attention. Nothing unusual there.

    • ApplePie1007 says:

      Nice to meet u,dear “friend” from China lol.

      Maybe I need to point out your mistake that the average British person uses “in the US”, not “in US”. It’s a pity that your Chinglish revealed about your identity .

      BTW, compared with the noble Mr.Haveron, UR absolutly a goushi :)

      • JanHus says:

        what a pitiful snob you’re

      • Max Grimm says:

        I will say that, while English isn’t my first language, I am quite sure that the average British person would say “It’s a pity what your…revealed about your identity.” and not “It’s a pity that your…revealed about your identity.”

        • ApplePie1007 says:

          Yes,I’m Chinese obviously,but I didn’t try to counterfeit a British (you know what I mean)

          • Max Grimm says:

            I honestly do not see how “Nick” was trying to pretend to be British. Not all people living in Britain or even with British/Canadian/US American citizenship have English as their mother tongue or speak English faultlessly. And names can be anglicized.

    • youthfulstrings says:

      Having played in an orchestra accompanying him over a string of performances rather recently, I can attest to this fact. He was never properly prepared (even after several concerts with major mishaps) and quite an unpleasant person.

  • Yvonne says:

    I too was there and the facts as laid out by SSO Concertmaster Andrew Haveron are correct. Yundi Li did not walk off the stage during the first movement.

    Yvonne Zammit
    Director, External Relations
    SSO

  • Vince says:

    Not surprising at all. There’s quite a number of Yundi flub videos on Youku.

  • Donald Wright says:

    I’m reminded of a performance of a Mozart concerto that I witnessed decades ago by the then nearly 90-year-old Rubinstein in Seattle. He lost his way, and turning to the audience with a noble manner and a smile, he apologized, saying “Please forgive me. I’m nearly 90 years old, you know!” (or words to that effect). He resumed at an agreed-upon spot, and the performance continued without a hitch. What a great old man!

    • Petros LInardos says:

      Reminds me of a theater story I was once heard. An aging legendary actor forgot his line onstage. The souffleuse whispered it at him: “Es ist zehn Uhr” (It’s ten o’clock). He didn’t get it, so she had to say it a few more times, louder and louder. Eventually the actor said “Wie wir eben gehört haben, es ist zehn Uhr” (As we just heard, it’s ten o’clock).

    • All Keyed Up says:

      Very shortly after that performance, Rubinstein cancelled all further concerts and permanently retired, due to the sad fact that his sight had been reduced to peripheral vision.

    • Pamela Brown says:

      I think it was Rubenstein who said in his debut recital his teacher had begged him not to look at the audience. He did, and promptly forgot the piece. So he made one up…:-)

  • Mark Lowther says:

    So, Norman, your story has been shown to be totally inaccurate by no less than the leader of the orchestra. ‘He did not leave the stage until the end ……’ says Andrew. No ‘refusing to return’. Surely the decent thing would now be to take the story down from the site.

  • Wurtfangler says:

    Rubinstein’s recovery from his memory lapse reminds me of the story I’ve been told by Kenneth Alwyn of when he was conducting the BBC Concert Orchestra with Dudley Moore.

    They were playing Mozart Piano Concerto 21, when Dudley ground to a halt and there was nothing to do but to stop. He rose very slowly from the piano, turned to the audience and said ‘And at this point Mozart died.’ The audience greeted this announcement with solemn, reverent silence. Dudley turned to Ken and said ‘However Ken, if Mozart HAD lived, how do you think he might have carried on?’. Ken replied, ‘I think he would have gone on like this’ and sang the part that Dudley had forgotten. ‘That’s a great idea’ replies Dud, sits down, and of they went again!

    • Pamela Brown says:

      I recall a performance of a soloist (CZ — very young and tired at the time) with the Minnesota Orchestra of a Mozart piano concerto where he came in with an entrance to a different concerto, of course, in a different key. The conductor (may have been Mr. Slatkin) just folded his arms and let him go on. When he came to, or woke up, the conductor just gave him a stern look and continued on with the next tutti. They completed the remainder of the piece successfully and I don’t know if most of the audience even realized what had happened.

  • Jeffrey Biegel says:

    This does, unfortunately happen, and that very passage is a nasty one. When I was 16 learning this, I forced myself to re-learn every broken harmonic passage in these sections as block chords and sing along with them to allow my vocal chords to gain memory of the ‘sound’ of those chords as well as the fingers. I remember Victor Borge, the late great Danish pianist, once told me he got lost in a Rachmaninov concerto, the second I believe he said, and improvised his way back to meet up with the orchestra! The rest of his career is history. Look, I was 15 during a local competition and, while playing Beethoven’s Sonata in D Major, Opus 10 no. 3, on page 3 there is a progression with both hands in mirror writing of scaler notes. I got screwed up and had to go to the judge’s table and look at the score. Ouch! True, that isn’t the same as playing with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, but the lesson I learned applied to everything else that followed. I’m sure he recovered and will never lose his place in that section again. I do not know Yundi personally, but I totally ‘get it’.

    • Petros LInardos says:

      Mr. Biegel, what is your take on the established practice of soloists playing from memory, while chamber musicians use a score?

      • Jeffrey Biegel says:

        Good question. Simple answer. To each his own. I certainly say use the score when you need for optimum performance, whether intricate works by Bach, new concerti and chamber music, anything.

      • Jeffrey Biegel says:

        PS–it has become the norm of playing works like the Chopin concerto without score. What do you think Chopin would have thought about that? Or Beethoven? Or Bach? I think they would have thought playing by memory was an absolutely crazy thing to attempt. But that will open up an entirely new post here about playing by memory. Personally, I don’t think it is very nice to expose this video. But I have no control over the media. Abundant hours traveling, time changes, alot of repertoire, different pianos, orchestra etc, so I really cannot fault Yundi a bit. He’s a human being regardless of any comments people are expressing, not a machine. But I am 100% sure the slip will never happen again.

        • Robert Hairgrove says:

          As to chamber music, I have seen stories that Horowitz, when accompanying singers on tour in Russia in his younger days, would perform the accompaniments by memory. Also, Rudolf Serkin is said to have memorized all of the chamber music he did, at least when playing with his father-in-law, Adolf Busch.

          The “fashion” to perform by memory in public was started by Liszt. Of course, Liszt also pulled off such stunts as sight-reading Schumann’s “Carnaval” in public. Many wonderful pianists who played everything from memory in their youth later on used the score (Sviatoslav Richter and Leon Fleisher come to mind). Maurizio Pollini, who performed one of the Boulez piano sonatas by memory perhaps ten years ago here in Zurich, played Bach preludes and fugues from the score recently. The obvious advantage to playing by memory is that it forces one to study the score much more deeply than might otherwise be the case. However, music-making certainly falls short if all the performer can think about is not forgetting.

          • jeffrey biegel says:

            Good points made, Robert. I have always suggested that my students memorize as much as they can, because when they do, they cement a harmonic memory of the music, melodic as well. In the end, however, with all of this knowledge, the neurological edge of performance presents other issues which varies from person to person. You could know a piece by memory inside and out–consciously–but when you add the performing element, nerves etc, it brings in an entirely new set of brain waves. Again, to each his own. Nobody has to prove themselves to anyone that they don’t need the score.

          • Pamela Brown says:

            I once was lucky enough to sneak into a Horowitz rehearsal at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis. There were burly guards posted on the stage, so my compatriot (a MO player) and I knelt between the seats in the balcony to avoid detection. It was an astounding experience.

            Later he walked out onto the sidewalk with his bodyguards to catch his limo and I noticed that his outfit was completely mismatched — tie, shirt, jacket were all different plaid or stripe. He seemed so small it was hard to believe he had conjured up such dramatic and explosive sound for so long. Remarkable and charming…

          • Robert Hairgrove says:

            In the first recording of the Rachmaninoff 3rd concerto which Horowitz did in the 1930’s on 78rpm discs (together with Albert Coates), there is a momentary memory lapse of Horowitz in the 3rd movement which actually made it into the release!

  • Michalis Economou says:

    So what is wrong with getting lost in a concerto? It is funny how some musicians think they are pilots or surgeons and their mistakes could kill other people.

  • All Keyed Up says:

    Last month, poor Yundi had to sit through 9 performances of this concerto while judging the Chopin competition in Warsaw.

    • MissPrinteditions says:

      Personal favorite remark of the week; thank you for that.

      • PO says:

        He missed the first three days of competition because he decided to go to a luxury wedding of a Chinese celebrity, together with all TV and movie stars, no other classical musicians there. When questioned, his or his agent’s response was: there are other 16 judges in Warsaw, the absence wouldn’t influence the fairness.

  • NYMike says:

    My Dad told me of a Heifetz concert in the ’20s where after about a page of the Bach Chaconne had gone by, Jascha – apparently very dissatisfied – stopped, turned toward the audience saying, “I’ll start again.”

    • Milka says:

      One reads here a two faced approach to Li– a personal dislike
      confused with the musical.
      It seems some do not forgive him because they view him wanting as a human being.
      Others for both the blanking out and the person.
      This is all silly — he blanked – it happens to the best and in not being the best he is
      not so easily forgiven .Heifetz blanked on the opening Sibelius twice and life went on .
      He did note in a published letter to the Times how ironic that he after so many years of playing did make the front page -for blanking out and not all the performances of a lifetime .Kreisler was known for his wandering about then coming in on track ,he was forgiven only because back on track he was out of this world .This is all nothing .

      • Mike says:

        One thing I am not sure about the user Milna is whether he/ she is permanently high or is just using google translate in order to translate him/herself from a very distant and strange language. Having said that, I often agree with the posts, as long as I can follow the grammar and the structure

    • Pamela Brown says:

      I love that anecdote. Heifetz was awesome. He would do that.

    • mike matesky says:

      Wow! I’d not heard that story before!

  • Roy Y. says:

    It is absolutely not that this kind of mistake should never ever happen. We all understand that the players are human beings. But it’s about the attitude Yundi has shown on stage – he rather blamed the conductor trying to show his innocence. That’s not the integrity nor respect we’d expect from this world class player.

  • B Bailey says:

    This probably happens to everyone. It happened to Artur Schnabel in the last movement of Mozart K.488 with Walter and the NY Philharmonic. And since it was a Sunday broadcast it was heard by millions and preserved for posterity. No one thinks less of Schnabel for it.

  • Respect says:

    You have aural evidence here. How can one argue with it? He took a wrong turn, did what we were all trained to do, improvise until you find your way. I’ve heard far worse, Illana Vered simply making up whole passages in the Rachmaninoff 3rd, the audience didn’t even note. If it is true that he tried to blame the conductor, then it’s despicable, but not being there, one truly can’t say, although it seems unlikely with a skilled conductor like Robertson. I’ve certainly had enough vain soloists try to pass blame, some have if down to an art semaphoring the audience. But to criticize a memory lapse? If they want their money back, it’s a comment about obsession with perfection that is wholly unhealthy.

  • William Safford says:

    Leonard Sharrow, the principal bassoonist of the Chicago Symphony under Reiner, once told me the story of having a small memory lapse while performing the Mozart Bassoon Concerto with the symphony. After the concert, Reiner asked Lenny what happened. Lenny mentioned that he had a memory slip. Reiner asked him why he was performing from memory. Lenny said because that’s what soloists do. Reiner observed that it wasn’t necessary. Professional soloists perform day-in, day-out from memory, and that there is no shame in playing from the music, both in general and especially for an orchestral musician who is acclimated to playing with music in front of him.

    If Reiner could be so gracious on this topic, surely others can be when a soloist has a memory slip.

  • David Fisk says:

    All this talk of memory lapses reminds me of the story (surely an urban myth) of the famous British actor on stage whose next line, at a pivotal moment in the plot, was to be triggered by the ringing of a prop telephone stage-center breaking into the dialogue underway, the caller relaying momentous news. The phone rings; the actor answers and his brain freezes, completely blank of the critical lines. Inspiration strikes as he calmly answers the call “just a moment” and turns to the actor by his side, passing him the phone: “it’s for you!”

    I so hope that’s a true tale.

  • Music Lover says:

    Well, he is only 33 years old. (when I was his age, I made more and bigger mistakes. At 45 now, still do. Probably will.)
    He already has proved his talents.
    Yes, he just had a moment of weakness.
    Yes, I know they talk about his “manners”.
    But I hope and am sure he will learn from his mistakes.
    Moreover, I hope he will recover from his traumatic memory.
    Rather, I hope this will inspire him to go back to the “beginner’s mind” and soar even to the higher level.
    People, please let’s try to delete this from our memory for him.
    (I am not Chinese)

  • Music lover says:

    The only factual statements that matter came from Andrew Haveron, concertmaster of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, and Yvonne Zammit, Director, External Relations, Sydney Symphony Orchestra. Musicians can empathise when other musicians make mistakes. Anyone who took such a mishap of Yundi;s to belittle him is simply savoring schadenfreude, as Mr. Haveron pointed out. To quote from the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer “To feel envy is human, to savor schadenfreude is diabolic”.

  • Nick says:

    It’s not that Li had memory slip that’s a big deal here. After all, we are all humans. It’s his trademark pretentiousness of always blaming other artists on stage in his quite often accidents that’s offensive to those of us and needs to be made aware of to general public.

    • Music lover says:

      And you are a professional musician playing with a top orchestra in America as you stated above to have received such inside information about his always blaming on others for his mistakes? The last time he played with a top American orchestra was in August 2015 with the LA Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl to standing ovation after an absence of four years of not playing in the US.

  • Massimiliano Frani says:

    I have known Yundi Li since he won the Young Artist Bachauer Competition in Salt Lake City: I will never forget the performance of the Chopin Andante Spianato. Yundi was a spectacular pianist at that age (if I remember correctly he was 18). I have listened to some of his recordings and do not detect a strong development in his musicianship: his talent would certainly allow for an incremental improvement in his ability to become an interpreter. That being said,
    even a major memory problem should not become a reason for journalistic sensationalism, possibly though, a chance to discuss about what true musicianship is, especially in view of other incidents where Yundi Li’s attitude has been questioned. I remember Anne-Sophie Mutter and Bruno Giuranna getting stuck during a wonderful performance of the Mozart Sinfonia Concertante. The obvious interruption did not detract the audience from an otherwise fantastic performance. There was no report of that incident, nor social media postings and unreasonable reactions. Possibly, the reason was that musicianship, professional and personal maturity played a discerning role for both the audience and the players.

  • Kee says:

    Do not believe the story described here by the majority as there has always been an ill attempt trying to destroy Yundi for the past fifteen years. For the purpose of destroying Yundi more convincingly, some people here even claimed to be present during the performance.. You can only get the true fact from some Koreans who had actually attended the performance. I personally don’t believe that it was Yundi’s fault even though he had already apologized because I know Yundi has always been forced to carry out instructions given to him by this secret agents. I believe he was forced to apologize. In fact, he has been controlled by the secret agents of communist China since 2008. But this has nothing to do with the present General Secretary of communist China Xi Jing Ping.

    • Ash says:

      From what I’ve heard, there are ppl paying millions to Internet trolls to destroy Yundi’s reputation.

      • Kee says:

        The secret agents of communist China is very capable of doing all these things against Yundi. They had forced Yundi to do a lot of things against Yundi;s will since 2008. What do you think is the reason for Yundi to disappear from the world arena since 2008 while he was at the peak of his career?

  • Kee says:

    The conductor that night was David Robertson, but why should the Sydney concertmaster Andrew Haveron clarifies here? From what I read, it was the conductor David Robertson who had stopped the performance but Andrew Haveron wrote here that Yundi had stopped himself. According to some Chinese media, Yundi had played so fast that David Robertson was unable to catch up with Yundi. When the conductor finally interrupted the performance, Yundi was rather annoyed with him. To be fair to Yundi, I think the conductor David Robertson should come here to clarify himself in an honest way. instead of sending Andrew Haveron here to distort the fact that shame Yundi even more.

    Furthermore, in the apology delivered by Yundi, he said that after checking with the organizer of the concert, there was no such thing as audiences trying to get back their refund. Obviously, there has been too much lies going around, .

    • Ash says:

      Hey troll , because Andrew was playing there and was sitting next to David and Yundi

      • Kee says:

        How do you know Andrew Haveron was sitting beside Yundi? Why must you answer for the conductor? If you are really fair to Yundi, you should demand the clarification from the conductor David Robertson himself. If Andrew Haveron had not come here to shame Yundi further, I would not have suggested that the conductor David Robertson should come here to tell us what was actually happening that night. From the posts you dropped above, I have a feeling that you are here only to pretend that the discussions here are fair to Yundi. .Let me tell you one fact, Norman Lebrecht himself has been very biased against Yundi for many years.

        • norman lebrecht says:

          This poster’s name is Koo Son and he appears to be ill-informed. Norman Lebrecht is on cordial terms with Yundi Li. There are videos to prove it.

          • Kee says:

            My name is not Koo Son. I did NOT say that Norman Lebrecht is not on cordial terms with Yundi but I did say that Norman Lebrecht is biased against Yundi. I have formed this opinion after reading a few of his very biased and negative comments on Yundi and a few of his very positive comments on Lang Lang. People who had read Norman Lebrecht’s comments on these two pianists will agree with me.

          • norman lebrecht says:

            The address from which you have posted is koon_soo@yahoo.com.sg

          • Kee says:

            You wrote Koo Soo instead of Koon Soo. Still, my name is not Koon Soo either. You should not have revealed my email address! without my consent.

          • Mei says:

            I totally believe that you Norman do not have the evil intention towards Yundi. Sincerely hope that you don’t care about Kee because it seems that he has the delusion of persecution on politics somehow.
            Many people have already read the prior article. Considering the later comprehensive report including the message from the SSO, the former information is not based on the truth, on the other words, distorted. Seeing that you have a distinguished and powerful social influence, may I request you to come up with a complete report coupled with the combing the development of whole story as well as the revising of the distorted part.
            Best regards

          • Kee says:

            For goodness sake, stop providing baseless story that cannot be verified. This is very unfair to Yundi. Anybody who has no ill intention towards Yundi would not want to prolong further such baseless and ugly discussion.

        • Kee says:

          Furthermore, had Norman Lebrecht ever written anything positive about Yundi? I myself have not come across any such positive comment. If Norman Lebrecht had written some positive comments about Yundi, it should be before Yundi disappeared from the world arena in 2008. After Yundi suddenly disappeared from the world arena in 2008, Norman Lebrecht caught many people’s attention with his keen interest on Yundi.

  • Kee says:

    In Yundi’s apology, Why did Yundi mention about checking through the posts dropped by some Korean audiences after that performance? I believe Yundi was trying to tell the world that although I have to apologize, you can get the truth from the posts dropped by some Korean audiences that it was truly not my fault.

    Why must Yundi apologize for the conductor’s wrong doing? Because Yundi has been controlled by the Secret Agent of communist China since 2008 – by the way, this has nothing to do with the present Chinese leader General Secretary Xi Jingpin. What do you think is the reason for Yundi to disappear from the world arena after 2008 while he was at the peak of his career? This Secret Agent had actually forced him to stay away from the society for sometimes. He was not even allowed to have contact with his family during that time. I suspect that he was more or less under some kind of house arrest for sometimes. When he finally re-merged in 2010, he had become totally a YES man to this Secret Agent . He had to mix himself with pop song singers, fashion designers etc etc. He was even forced to interrupt his duty as a judge of Chopin piano competition to fly back to China in order to attend a wedding of an Chinese actor. He had lost completely his freedom. The Secret Agent had planned all these to make it look as if Yundi has lost interest in classical music and he has become so deteriorated that he often makes tons of mistakes. The Secret Agent has a troop of posters to verify all such claims at many websites. People who are able to think logically refuse to believe all such nonsense claimed by these posters. Listen to Yundi’s CD’s , how can all such claims be true if Yundi ‘s is able to play so well? It will be useless trying to get any truth from Yundi;s lips as his lips has been completely sealed – being very scared of this Secret Agent.

    I know all these because I have watched Yundi’s development closely since his winning of first prize of Chopin piano competition. I even wrote some reviews for his CD’s at Amazon using the nick name Kee.

  • paul says:

    Here’s and extract from another report on the concert, which talks about “admiration, on many levels, for everyone involved.”

    EXTRACT:
    I can be on the edge of my seat during a thrilling performance, but not because I expect anything to go wrong. It wouldn’t occur to me that a soloist might have a memory lapse – aren’t they superhuman beings with hundreds of hours of music etched into their brains and muscles. I’m not talking about the odd wrong note – that’s the nature of live music, and perfection is boring.

    Of course, I wish Yundi hadn’t stumbled on Friday night. But it gave me even greater admiration, on many levels, for everyone involved. At the end of his performance, Yundi came out to take his bow and received an extremely enthusiastic reception from the audience. But far more touching, to me, was to see the Sydney Symphony Orchestra up there on stage at the Seoul Arts Center spontaneously applauding him in what was so obviously a genuine gesture

    – See more at: http://www.limelightmagazine.com.au/live-reviews/review-yundi-plays-chopin-sydney-symphony-orchestra#sthash.egUlTICC.dpuf

    • Kee says:

      I truly don’t believe that Yundi had a memory lapse that night in Soul for the following reasons:

      1. If it was Yundi’s fault that night, he would not have felt annoyed with the conductor that night.

      2. Normally, if you had made a mistake during a performance, you do not apologize afterwards to generate publicity. Why must Yundi apologize? Knowing that Yundi has been controlled by this Secret Agent of Communist China since 2008, I am quite sure that he was forced to make such apology.

      2. Yundi is very familiar with the piece Chopin piano concerto No. 1 after having played it all these years. Furthermore, the piece was very well played by Yundi the previous night with the same conductor in Daegu, South Korea, is it possible that he had a memory ;lapse the next night in Soul? Furthermore, if Yundi has the problem with his memory, he would not dare to play two concertos in one single night. But just a few days after the Soul performance, he played Chppin Concerto and Beethoven concerto in one single night twice in Japan with a different conductor and Orchestra.

      on 7 Nov 2015

      Japan Century Symphony Orchestra
      Shigeo Genda, conductor
      Chopin: Piano Concerto No. 1
      Beethoven:Piano Concerto No.5 “Emperor”

      and on 11 Nov 2015

      Tokyo Symphony Orchestra
      Shigeo Genda, conductor
      Chopin: Piano Concerto No. 1
      Beethoven: Piano Concerto No.5 “Emperor”

      .Yundi wrote in his Weibo that he was very happy with the performances. He also thanked the conductor. Why did he thank the conductor? Soloists don’t normally do that. I guess he was still very angry with the Sydney conductor David Robertson who stopped him for no good reason during the performance in Soul.

      3. If it has not been for the numerous attempts and conspiracies to destroy Yundi in the past, I may not suspect that this incidence in Soul is just another ugly attempt trying to achieve the same purpose.

      For the purpose of giving false evidence that Yundi did make mistake that night in Soul, one can easily pretend that he or she had attended the Soul performance. The only way to get the truth of what actually happened that night is by going through the posts dropped that night by the Korean audiences who had attended the performance in Soul. Posts dropped during some other times may carry fake information.

  • Trajectory says:

    Just came back from LA Concert. Clearly, he is not keeping his performance quality consistent. Overall, I came home with mixed feelings. To be honest, I was unpleasant with his performance. It almost makes me wonder if he even appreciates the music (he probably does not anymore or never was…).

    In most pieces, especially in first half, his crescendos were way too rough. I also noticed that he was nervous in the beginning in Ballad I & II. In Ballad I, he skipped and jumped to another spot in the middle of the music. It was quite awkward to see him placing his left hand on the panel lid while intentionally slowing the right hand only portion. He perhaps needed to do this so that he could release misleading tension. Yet still, fasting speed led him skipping way too many notes. It was hard to deny that he played way too many incorrect notes also.

    Still, I admit that he is one of the best players that can deliver sensitive and pretty persistent pianissimos in most pieces. I hope I was just unlucky and he just was not a good condition tonight.

    • pigmamix says:

      I totally agree.
      I felt he was very nervous in the begginning.
      I also noticed he skipped many notes in the middle of Ballade 1.
      He seemed very carefuly played, as if he was very afraid of making any mistakes so that
      he needed to slow down most of the fast tempo pieces.
      I thought he wasn’t ready.

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