“With this much musicianship already, there is no doubt that he has a very bright future ahead of him.”
The Classic Review
Pianist Bruce (Xiaoyu) Liu burst onto the world stage in October 2021 when he won the International Chopin Piano Competition, the first Canadian ever to take first prize in the long history of this most prestigious competition. The fresh, spontaneous dynamism and flawless technique that characterised his playing throughout the various stages (“his Concerto in E minor … held poetry and virtuosity in wonderful balance” Daily Telegraph) not only convinced the jury but have since been winning over critics and audiences at sold-out venues worldwide. The 24‑year-old Paris-born pianist has also impressed interviewers with his humility, sense of humour and intelligent interest in the history and culture of the many places he has visited since his victory in Warsaw.
Liu signed an exclusive agreement with Deutsche Grammophon on 29 March 2022 which, appropriately enough, was World Piano Day. Working in partnership with the Fryderyk Chopin Institute, the Yellow Label had already issued an album of live recordings captured during the various stages of the Chopin Competition. Released on 19 November 2021, a month after Liu was announced as the winner, the album was met with a flood of rave reviews. BBC Music Magazine, for example, noted that he has “something consistently interesting and always idiomatic to say about Chopin’s music”, in playing of “uncommon sensitivity”, “rumbustious energy” and “breathtaking beauty”.
Liu’s recording of Chopin’s Nocturne in C sharp minor, KK IVa/16 was released as an e-single on 1 April, with more tracks to follow throughout 2022. Two future albums are already being planned: one focusing on French music, including Chopin and Rameau, to reflect his desire to explore the music of his birthplace, the other featuring works by Tchaikovsky, notably the daunting Piano Concerto No.2.
Recent and forthcoming highlights of Liu’s now packed touring schedule include his highly acclaimed debuts in Paris (a solo Chopin programme: “he caused a sensation with a recital that married tradition with originality”, ResMusica) and the UK (Tchaikovsky’s Second Concerto with the Philharmonia and Santtu-Matias Rouvali: “a telling and highly original performance”, which was “calibrated by detailed touches and deft individual strokes of drama”, Seen and Heard International); his debut with the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg and Lionel Bringuier; a six-concert tour of Florida with the Warsaw Philharmonic and Andrey Boreyko; and a return to Europe this summer to perform at the Ruhr Piano Festival, Rheingau Music Festival, La Roque d’Anthéron Festival, Gstaad Menuhin Festival, Duszniki International Chopin Festival and Edinburgh Festival, among others.
“What we all have in common is our difference,” Bruce Liu likes to say. Born to Chinese parents in Paris on 8 May 1997, he moved with his father to Montreal at the age of six but has always made regular visits to China and speaks fluent Mandarin. His phenomenal artistry has therefore been shaped by his personal heritage: European refinement, North American dynamism and the long tradition of Chinese culture. He studied with Richard Raymond at the Montreal Conservatoire between 2011 and 2018, during which time he won the grand prize at the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal Competition when he was only 15. He is currently a student of Dang Thai Son (winner of the 10th Chopin Competition).
He has already performed with some of the world’s leading ensembles, including the Cleveland Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, Orchestre symphonique de Montréal and Philharmonia Orchestra at such prestigious venues as the Royal Festival Hall in London, Paris’s Théâtre des Champs-Élysées and the Vienna Konzerthaus.
Liu has adopted a healthy attitude towards the demands of touring and performing, balancing his practice time with his many other hobbies and interests, which include swimming, chess, karting, cinema, jazz and history. He also recognises that the focus required by practising or performing has many benefits: “When I play, I forget everything else in the world. Music has the power to help me clean my soul.”