Yuanfan Yang Enchants at the Piano – Giornale di Vicenza review

Published 29 January 2020  Review


The 23 year old Chinese pianist offers points of mastery and technical command also playing with his back to the keyboard like Mozart.

Eva Purelli (translation Christopher Axworthy)

Read the review (in Italian) on the Giornale di Vicenza website


Lets start at the end. Yuanfan Yang, the 23 year old Chinese pianist born in Edinburgh, at the end of the concert for Incontro sulla Tastiera   improvised with great authority on a few notes chosen at random. Something quite usual in the past centuries for those that played a keyboard instrument or organs. An ability today much appreciated and used in jazz rather than in ‘serious’ music. But Yang after a much applauded concert in the Ridotto of the Teatro Comunale did not choose to play an encore from the vast piano solo repertoire, but instead offered an immediate example of his improvisatory gifts.

Asking the public in fluent English for any ideas, notes or melodies (next time it would be better to provide a simultaneous translation as it seemed that nobody understood what he was saying). But there was no sign of life from the public. So Yang with a shrug, just turned his back to keyboard and, putting his hands on the keys, chose some random notes (remember the scene in the film ‘Amadeus’ when Mozart plays with his back to the keyboard?). Offering the first example of his great talent. Asking again he found three volunteers who climbed onto the stage putting their hands on the keys and making unprepared noises at the keyboard. And Yang asks what type of piece would they would like to the improvisation to be, in what style. Yang goes for the Jazz style improvisation suggested. It is here that his great talent showed itself.

In the concert in Vicenza this prodigious pianist not only showed his great personality and natural fluid technique  but also a musical intelligence, capable of involving the public with a born gift of creating visual images. Something rare and of a chosen few. Because he can adapt the sounds to the model being created. One was aware of this even when he was playing one of his recorded pieces,”The Haunted Bell”that is on his debut  CD for solo piano   “Watercolours.” It was the piece that won him the BBC Young Musicians International Composers Competition in 2012. The concert however was also made up of standard repertoire, in which the 23 year old pianist showed his technical skill of enviable bravura and refined sensibility. To start with the opening clean and clear Bach of the Toccata in C minor BWV911 without any blemishes (the only exaggeration in some parts was in his unrelenting speed). Of great note was his interpretation of another well known work: the Sonata in B flat minor op.35 ‘Funeral March’ by Chopin. The concert that opened the 2020 season of Incontro sulla Tastoera, dedicated to Fernanda Muraro Detto confirmed the value of the collaboration with the UK  foundation “Keyboard Trust”.


Hear more details of Yuanfan’s concert tour of Northern Italy from Christopher Axworthy’s blog:

YUANFAN YANG IN ITALY Part 1 Vicenza and Rai Radio 3

Ivan Krpan and Yuanfan Yang in Rome

 Eva Purelli (translation Christopher Axworthy)