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Bruce Liu
Bruce Liu

Biography

“one of the most distinguished Chopin recitals of recent years,
full of maturity, character and purpose”
Gramophone, reviewing Chopin

 

Chinese-Canadian pianist Bruce (Xiaoyu) Liu burst onto the world stage in October 2021 when he won the International Chopin Piano Competition. The fresh, spontaneous dynamism and flawless technique that characterised his playing throughout the various stages of this most prestigious competition (“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. Liu 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.

He 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 in November 2021, 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”.  

Bruce Liu’s recording of Chopin’s Nocturne in C sharp minor, KK IVa/16 was released as an e‑single in April 2022, just days after the DG signing. Further digital releases soon followed: Rameau’s Les tendres plaintes and La poule in June and August 2022, Chopin’s Étude Op. 10 No. 5 “Black Keys” in October 2022 and J.S. Bach’s French Suite No. 5 in April 2023.

His much-anticipated debut DG studio album, Waves: Music by Rameau · Ravel · Alkan, features contrasting repertoire by three masters of French keyboard music who were active in consecutive centuries. The two works by Charles-Valentin Alkan, the Barcarolle and Le Festin d’Ésope, are new additions to DG’s catalogue. Waves will be released on 3 November 2023.

Recent highlights of Liu’s touring schedule include his debut performances in Argentina, Hong Kong and Taiwan; with the San Francisco Symphony and Rafael Payare; as recitalist at New York’s Carnegie Hall; and with The Philadelphia Orchestra and Yannick Nézet-Séguin at the Bravo! Vail Music Festival in Colorado. Among his forthcoming engagements are his debut at the Hollywood Bowl (18 August 2023); Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto in Montreal with the Orchestre Métropolitain and Nézet-Séguin (16/17 September); appearances in Japan, China and Singapore (October/November); and a recital tour of Europe featuring some of the repertoire from Waves (November/December).

“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, and thereafter with 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, Philharmonia Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Wiener Symphoniker at such prestigious venues as the Royal Festival Hall in London, Paris’s Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, the Vienna Konzerthaus and Musikverein, and the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires.

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, cinema, jazz and history, not to mention karting – last autumn he enjoyed a training session on the track with racing and rally driver Robert Kubica. 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.”

8/2023

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