Youthful Pianist Kate Liu a Grand Talent
The Washington Post

November 28, 2011

All of 17, pianist Kate Liu is a veteran of at least eight competitions, an appearance on PBS’s “From the Top at Carnegie Hall” and numerous high-profile concerts. Her recital Sunday at the Phillips Collection confirmed a burgeoning talent and a musical poise well beyond her years.One of Liu’s early career highlights was performing some four-hand Schubert with Lang Lang. Fortunately, none of Lang’s mugging or histrionics rubbed off on Liu, who plays with calm focus and whose ferocious technique is guided by a strong sense of structure and an unfussy feel for rhythm. The dynamic range is impressively large and she never loses her head in loud, fast passages.

As one would expect, she was at her most commanding in Prokofiev’s Sixth Sonata, where titanium fingers, a strong pulse and a touch of whimsy are pretty much all you need to make a big success. In the Beethoven Op. 7 Sonata and the Chopin “Polonaise-Fantasie,” however, the universe that lies behind the notes is revealed only after many years of study and experience. Liu may never play the double trills in the Chopin better than she does now (spectacularly), but she will almost certainly develop more subtle and effective ways to project Beethoven’s “con gran espressione” instruction in the slow movement of his sonata.At this still-early stage, her control of form and pacing exceeds her grasp of tonal color and deeper emotion. But this young artist will begin her conservatory stage miles ahead of most of her competition; she is already a pianist worth leaving home to hear.