Do you really want to hear a winner? Are you sure?

Do you really want to hear a winner? Are you sure?


norman lebrecht

November 03, 2018

From the Lebrecht Album of the Week:

Eric Lu, 20 years old, won the Leeds International Competition in September. Part of the prize was a debut recording on Warner Classics. Ten years ahead, when his career is hopefully flourishing, I’m not sure Eric will think that was such a great idea….

Read on here.

And here.



  • esfir ross says:

    Mediocracy rules! Eric Lu’s over-hyped. I walked out on his San Francisco recital. Puzzled by his winning Leeds.

  • aj says:

    There is nothing to separate him from hundreds of others
    in aiming for a piece of the money pie.Leeds should be
    ashamed of themselves, one suspects in recording him
    there is a buck to be made for various reasons
    and he will probably be tossed aside him once the cash cow does not deliver.

  • Gnomenreigen says:

    This recording wasn’t Eric’s idea. Let’s put the blame where it belongs – in the hands of Warner Classics & the Leeds Competition. Putting a 20 year old contest winner on a major label is the kiss of death; however well-meaning these organizations may be, they are blind-sighted by their own arrogance in believing that whoever wins is automatically a genius who is fully prepared for worldwide recognition. Let’s wish Mr. Lu well, and hope that he doesn’t become a victim of his victory.

    • Waldesrauschen says:

      “Blind-sighted”? Is that supposed to be a play on words? Or did you mean blindsided (which hardly applies)?

  • Petros Linardos says:

    Pollini’s early recordings are among his best. I may not be alone in thinking so. Then again, Pollini is probably the exception.

  • Tom says:

    … I’m tired of hearing over and over again about the “winners” and how they deserved or did not deserve to win. This envy culture that focuses on the lives/careers of the “winners” is making it hard for me to enjoy a personal relationship to classical music.

    • Petros Linardos says:

      May I suggest that you focus on the music you like instead of the performers?

      • Bruce says:

        It would probably be more productive for Tom to just stop reading this blog (or at least most of the comments), now that he knows what kind of stuff gets posted here.

  • Bruce says:

    Two thoughts occurred to me simultaneously:

    (1) As I said somewhere on here recently, all any competition can do is help the winner(s) get a foot in the door. Look at the list of winners & finalists from any big competition — Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Leeds, Queen Elisabeth, Van Cliburn — and you will find a number of famous players and a number of people you’ve never heard of. Who knows why some of the non-famous ones are not famous now. There can be all kinds of reasons.

    (2) If Eric Lu is 20 years old, then he has plenty of time to grow. If he does develop, people may come back to this recording and claim to hear the seeds of genius — or they may say “his early recordings are not great, but so what?” Or general opinion in the future might declare Norman to be wrong.

    (3) I seem to remember that the Van Cliburn competition used to release a recording of the winner’s final-round performance. As I recall, Andre-Michel Schub (winner in 1981) was actually not happy with his performance and didn’t want the recording released. Anyway, an “instant record” of a competition winner is not that unusual. Back in the early 80’s, I found recordings of Argerich and Pollini’s winning performances from the Chopin competition in the discount bin at Tower Records in Seattle.