★★★★★ Mike Lee's superlative recital brought out things in Mozart sometimes suspected but rarely heard.
There were cheers and a sustained (seated) ovation at the conclusion of this 90-minute presentation. Try as one might, it was hard to avoid cliché responses like ‘stunning’, even ‘electrifying’. I don’t think I have heard a Mozart recital quite like this. I heard things in Mozart’s music I had never thought possible and certainly had never encountered before.
Lee is an engaging presenter, emerging as an educator in the Bernstein mould, a star who will attract students and audiences.
— Limelight Magazine, Australia
He played the instrument gloriously, with a crispness that only a fortepiano will allow and a touch that must have tingled the keys. Lee’s Mozart was absolutely radiant, a lesson in refinement mixed with deep devotion. Joining the Marsh-led orchestra in reflection of the soloist’s crispness and ability to tingle the keys, that meant one heard unforgettable Mozart.
— Herald Times, Bloomington, Indiana
I celebrate Mike Cheng-Yu Lee’s recorded performance of the first movement of Schubert’s Piano Sonata, Op. 42 (D. 845; 1825)—and, indeed, his rendition of the entire sonata—as one of the most compelling interpretations of a piano work by Schubert that I have heard. With Mike Lee’s essay in this volume, we witness an enactment of the kind of performance-analysis relationship to which I hope we now all aspire—a flow of communication that runs in both directions, from performer to analyst and vice versa, but with both, in this case, embodied in just one very fine musician...Whatever the case, here is a performer who has been able to tell us why he plays the movement as he does. In general we don’t ask or expect that kind of explanation from performers; and so, when they provide such full and convincing answers, we can only be impressed and enlightened.
— Janet Schmalfeldt,
Music Theory Online 16.2
Sunday afternoon was to belong to Nigel North, the virtuoso lutenist who honors with his presence both the concert world and the Jacobs School faculty. Reportedly, he suffered a back injury the day before and had to cancel his recital in St. Thomas Lutheran Church. In his place, BLEMF called upon pianist Mike Cheng-Yu Lee who, on Saturday, had helped celebrate the late faculty pianist Edmund Battersby. As partner with Hsuan Chang Kitano, Lee had stunned an audience, certainly me, playing “Mozart’s Sonata for Two Pianos,” K.448. That performance was a tour de force. His Sunday appearance was a lecture/music combine about “Mozart and His Piano.” Its climax was Lee’s reading of Mozart’s “Sonata in F,” K.332, on fortepiano, an absolutely gorgeous performance that stressed the work’s lyricism, an element strongly suggestive of the Romantic period soon to come. As keyboard performer, Lee really is a major talent, no doubt about it; I expect press notices to start coming before long in praise of his musicianship.
— Herald Times, Bloomington, Indiana
Under Mike Lee’s hands, the Rondo in D Major for piano emerged with martial zest and eloquence, the light, tinkling sound of the fortepiano a total delight.
— South Florida Classical Review, Miami, Florida
Lee captured the hearts of the audience with the Partita, in which his deliberate style portrayed the integrity, purity, complexity, and truth in Bach’s music...Lee’s performance could have been a campaign for the fortepiano, with balance and control that were breathtaking...it was clear that he had put all of himself into this performance, which rightly earned him the Herbert J. Carlin Audience Prize.
— CNY Café Momus.com