Notes & Reviews:
In the history books of the International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition, 2015 will go down not only as the year of the North Americans but of the young contestants. Coming in ahead of Canada's Tony Yike Yang, whose fifth prize made him the youngest-ever laureate in the history of the competition. Eric Lu was placed fourth at the age of still only 17. The Boston-born pianist had already achieved success earlier in 2015 by winning first prize in the National Chopin Competition of the US in Miami, and he stood out early on in Warsaw, playing on a Yamaha with consistently warm results. Writing in the Chopin Courier, Dorota Szwarcman was quick to spot Lu when he played on the first Sunday afternoon: "The best, however, was Eric Lu...His maturity, especially in the Ballade in F minor, was a suprise, especially as he is on 17 years old." As required in the First Stage, Lu played a Nocturne and chose Op. 27 No. 2 in D flat. All the formal characteristics of this Chopin genre are distilled into the two Op. 27 Nocturnes, in particular the floating melody of this D flat work - a jewel of Chopinesque craftsmanship. the musicologist Jim Sampson has described his use of ornamental melody here as "exquisite, if sweet-toothed", but goes on to analyse in detail how such a typical Chopin melody functions, even tracing some of its roots back to the "galant" style and Mozart.