Author Topic: The Asian Invasion  (Read 19016 times)

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Offline Todd

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Re: The Asian Invasion
« Reply #160 on: January 19, 2019, 07:28:10 AM »

[This will be cross-posted in the Schubertiade thread]

Yoon Chung is yet another of the bevy of South Korean pianists whose work I've listened to in the last couple years, and like some other artists in The Asian Invasion thread, this sole disc of Schubert is his only commercial recording to date.  Chung was born in Korea but did most of his training in the UK, where he now lives.  He also did some studying in Dallas under Joaquín Achúcarro, and he's done the whole competition thing, too.  So, he's like a veritable army of young artists out there in possessing proper credentials.

The disc opens with D958.  Chung goes for a fairly straight-forward approach.  His tempi are sensible, his dynamics just fine, and his forcefulness in the first theme of the Allegro is vigorous but not overdone.  But in the second theme, Chung's individuality becomes more evident.  He seems more comfortable in the more melodic, introspective music, and he sees fit to add some noticeable dollops of rubato.  Sometimes he slows things down rather a lot, interrupting the forward momentum noticeably, but it ultimately works, as do his long pauses.  The Adagio takes the approach of the second theme of the Allegro and sort of magnifies the traits.  How well one responds to pauses and drawn out playing may very well determine how much one likes this movement.  It's well done, to be sure, and I do very much enjoy such an approach, but sometimes it might be too much of a good thing, especially in the drawn out coda.  That written, Chung tosses in some real oomph in the second theme of this movement, so it all works well enough.  The Menuetto is fairly conventional in approach, and then the closing Allegro opens with not a little drive, with Chung displaying rock steady left hand playing under the melodies.  His standard fast and slower than normal approach is repeated as warranted, and expected, throughout, though there's a greater sense of rhythmic bounce and energy.  So, a very well played version, but not a favorite, even in The Asian Invasion thread - that would be Ran Jia.  (Which reminds me, when will she record something else?)

Next is D946, a work that seems to benefit more from more interventionist takes.  (Listen, for example, to Sokolov or Kars.)  Chung launches into the Allegro assai with ample energy and drive, but it's when the slow music arrives that he seems to be in his element.  Backing off to a Karsesque tempo, and adopting a very earnest mien, though the runs are little delights, Chung revels in the music.  That written, it lacks the otherworldly magic of Kars or the refinement of Sokolov.  (The comparisons were not selected at random.)  In the Allegretto, Chung adopts more extreme tempos at both ends of the spectrum, to mixed effect - the slow playing really comes way too close to being way too slow - but the cumulative effect is to sort of render the first two movements a nearly half-hour long fantasy.  Cool.  The Allegro does the fast-slow thing, too, though here the slow movement is a bit quicker and played with an attractive, gently punched out staccato style that emphasizes rhythm and fun.  The whole thing comes off a bit better than the sonata.

So, neither work rates among my favorite versions of what's out there, but Chung is not at all reticent about imparting his ideas to music.  I would not be averse to hearing him in something else.  Liszt or Szymanowski may sound just nifty.

Chung owns the copyright in this recording, so one can access it free online.  Mr Chung and his production team were smart enough to hire Tony Faulkner as engineer, so sound is superb, so I'm glad I got the disc instead of relying on streaming.
The universe is change; life is opinion.   Marcus Aurelius, Meditations


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