Author Topic: The Asian Invasion  (Read 26298 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.
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Offline Todd

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Re: The Asian Invasion
« Reply #161 on: January 26, 2019, 06:45:10 AM »



So far, William Youn has batted a thousand.  His Mozart sonata cycle is one of the best I've heard, and his recorded partnerships with Nils Mönkemeyer have all been outstanding.  With this disc of Chopin, Schumann, and Wolf, I had to confront the possibility that Youn might play too beautifully.  The disc opens with Chopin's Op 27/2 Nocturne, and Youn plays it with unerring, seductive beauty.  Each and every note sounds lovely, so lovely.  But even hints of drama go missing.  Is sheer beauty enough to sustain interest?  Well, yes, as it turns out.  The same basic conundrum is present through the Op 59 Mazurakas, though to a lesser extent.  Youn again produces only lovely sounds, but here he plays with more rhythmic variegation, as befits the pieces, and a touch as refined and nuanced as anyone's.  Whether one finds the pieces too rarified and focused on tonal and melodic beauty will depend on what one listens for.  The Polonaise-Fantaisie even more than the Nocturne may suffer from the too-beautiful-for-its-own-good problem, and sometimes it sounds as if the pianist is so enamored of the details that he nearly, but never quite, loses sight of the bigger picture.  It's almost like an insanely well prepared version that mimics momentary whimsy.  Ultimately, the playing is so refined and pristine that the listener is gently forced to give in and revel in the sound.  Youn does ratchet up the volume and intensity as the piece draws to a close, but it always sounds controlled, refined, and attractive.

Next comes the big work, Schumann's Davidsbündlertänze.  Youn delivers in every regard.  His Florestan playing is pretty much beyond reproach.  He plays with vigor, drive, rhythmic swagger, and wide dynamic range.  And fine clarity and articulation.  As great as that is, Youn is even more at home in the Eusebius pieces, with that super-fine control, sensibility, and touch delivering ravishing music each time, every time.  Nicht schnell mit äußerst starker Empfindung epitomizes just how fantastic Youn's playing sounds, which is to say, it sounds perfect.  Youn comes perilously close to pushing things too far and fast in Wild und lustig, but he never quite gets there, and he ends it beautifully, which then segues to an almost impossibly beautiful and delicate Zart und singend, an aural feat repeated in the concluding Nicht schnell.  Here I thought Youn was a supreme master of Mozart.  He is, but it turns out he may be even better in Schumann.

The disc ends with a trio of Hugo Wolf pieces.  The two Aus der Kinderzeit miniatures are remarkably beautiful gems, and would have made great encore closers for the disc, but instead Youn goes for an eleven minute Meistersinger paraphrase.  I like Meistersinger, and I can enjoy piano paraphrases, and so it goes here.  Wolf, as played by Youn, emphasizes the lyrical and delicate over the boisterous, at least until the conclusion, which comes off beautifully.   

This is another extraordinarily fine disc from Mr Youn.  I really need his latest Sony release and his earlier Schubert disc.  And he really needs to record more.  A great disc, and a surefire purchase of the year.
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Offline Todd

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Re: The Asian Invasion
« Reply #162 on: February 02, 2019, 07:37:11 AM »


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

I got tired of waiting around for some record company to issue a new Ran Jia recording, so I decided to revisit her Schubert with her first commercial recording of two sonatas, here the always successful pairing of D960 and D664.  This time around, I had to go the download route since physical media was impossible to find.  The download I got happens to be of the 24 bit variety, which appears to be the only format available for purchase.

Jia starts off with D960, and her Molto moderato is of the long, slow variety, coming in at just a hair over twenty minutes.  One really wouldn't sense that initially as she plays with a steady pulse and keeps it up throughout.  As in her later disc, her style has little time for sentiment or contemplation.  It is harder hitting, though at times even more beautiful than what one hears on the RCA disc.  What is also clear is that Jia likes to make the lower register thunder, whether in the bass trills or in passages with more lower register playing.  Too, she doesn't limit her hard hitting playing to just the lower registers; forte sections have steel in them, and hints of anger more than despair.  Her anodized aluminum in comfy suede gloves style is evident in this recording.  The anger, the bite, the tension that pervades the movement makes it seem to go by more quickly than it does, even if it's not deep.  A few times, Jia's delivery of some right hand passages, including some arpeggios near the end, are especially ear-catching.  Jia pulls off much the same trick in the Andante sostenuto, which manages to sound a bit rushed while still coming it at over ten minutes.  That is down solely to the tension in the playing.  Again, it's not the deepest or most affecting take, but it works better than it should.  Jia moves right through the Scherzo at a brisk sounding pulse, with ample drive and dynamic contrast and she ends the sonata with an Allegro ma non troppo that, like Zimerman after her but to a lesser extent than the more famous pianist, uses clipped G-naturals.  She also pokes out some of the bass notes underneath the melodies to good effect, and grinds out the more intense passages most effectively.  So, not one of the very best readings available, but very much in line with her RCA recording and very well worth hearing.

In D664, Jia shows that she can plays just about as beautifully as anyone as she produces a stream of musical gorgeousness for much of the movement.  She can still unload, though, and the loud passages seem better suited to D784, though Jia plays them nicely.  One thing that sort of stuck out more than normal is how the coda sounds, or can sound, very much like Beethoven, while the rest of the movement sounds very Schubertian.  In the Andante, Jia plays with more feeling and depth than is typical in her style.  It's far from sentimental, but she lavishes very nuanced attention on the notes, creating something and dramatic, but not overstated.  The Allegro is spritely and delivered with a bouncy rhythm in the mix with Jia's standard, hard-hitting playing.  Overall, I tend to prefer a more lyrical approach, but Jia makes a strong case for her approach.

Her case is so strong that I now hope another disc gets released soon, on whatever label.

Sound quality is top shelf, but somewhat close, with a fair amount of damper mechanism noise.
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Offline Todd

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Re: The Asian Invasion
« Reply #163 on: February 09, 2019, 06:45:52 AM »



YES knocked it out of the park last year with her blockbuster disc Modern Times on Decca, complete with the best-ever studio version of Three Movements from Petrushka, and world class everything else, so I determined I should try something else from her.  I settled on a download of her Decca recording of works for violin and piano from both famous Schumanns and Brahms.  Here, YES is joined by German violinist Clara-Jumi Kang, who won various competitions, including the Indianapolis, and does the whole A- and B-list collaboration thing.  This indicated that some fine chamber music should be the result.

The disc opens with Bob's Op 105 sonata.  Prior to listening to this disc for the first time, I revisited the French duo Stephanie-Marie Degand and Olivier Peyrebrune.  Kang and YES sound at least as secure as their peers - probably more so - but they also seem to hold just a little something back.  While certainly generating a romantic sound, it sounds more calculated, even if it is more pristine.  There's less a sense of letting it all hang out.  That more or less pervades the second and third movements.  Here, one gets to listen to world class playing that may fall just shy of the very best, depending on taste.  There's certainly no faulting either artist's playing, nor Kang's intonation, nor anything else.  The duo tread into less familiar territory in the next work, Clara Schumann's Three Romances, Op 22.  The music is a bit more syrupy and obviously romantic, and if the musicians still seem to hold back, everything again sounds swell.  Really, a bit more than that, especially in the Allegretto, which exudes welcome light-heartedness.  Bob's Three Romances, Op 94 follows.  The music is more accomplished, darker, more romantic than the first work, and Kang, in particular, plays with real feeling.  Yes, YES is relegated to the background a bit, but it serves the music well.  The work ends up serving as the highlight of the disc.  The disc ends with Brahms' Op 108, and here there is much competition from superheavyweights new (eg, Capucon/Angelich), not so new (Mullova/Anderszewski), kinda old (Suk/Firkusny), and old (Szeryng/Rubinstein), and dozens of others.  I can't say that Kang/YES displace established faves, but I can happily report that they blend in qualitatively.  Kang keeps on doing her thing, and while YES doesn't dominate the proceedings, she gets more to do, and when called upon to do so, she makes her piano swell and delivers the goods.  The playing does adopt of sort of studied romantic sound, but the steadiness and heft suit Brahms well.  It makes a fine closer.

Sound is modern Decca quality.

Overall, this disc is another winner from YES, though it's not up to the out of this world standard of Modern Times.  That's OK.  Merely superb discs are still welcome in my collection.  Also welcome is Ms Kang, a violinist I would not object at all to hearing more from.  She does have other recordings out there, and as it turns out, she has recently taken to performing with Alessio Bax.  I must hear what those two can do together.
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Offline amw

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Re: The Asian Invasion
« Reply #164 on: February 09, 2019, 12:28:30 PM »
Have you found Son's Chopin Etudes (recorded for Universal Music Korea at some absurdly young age) & if so where's the best place to acquire them?

Offline Todd

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Re: The Asian Invasion
« Reply #165 on: February 09, 2019, 12:34:17 PM »
Have you found Son's Chopin Etudes (recorded for Universal Music Korea at some absurdly young age) & if so where's the best place to acquire them?


I didn't even know about that disc.  It doesn't show up on her site.  (The only Chopin listed is her piano 'n' strings Nocturnes, which I'm not sure about.)  Now that I know it's out there, I want to hear it and must hunt it down.  Shit.
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Offline amw

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Re: The Asian Invasion
« Reply #166 on: February 09, 2019, 12:37:24 PM »
This has been the only evidence of its existence I've found so far—a definite classical music cryptid we hope to see more sightings of.

Offline Todd

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Re: The Asian Invasion
« Reply #167 on: February 09, 2019, 12:55:40 PM »
This has been the only evidence of its existence I've found so far—a definite classical music cryptid we hope to see more sightings of.


Well, that was easy.  I just ordered from Discogs.  Let's see if jumpoutlet delivers the goods.
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Offline Todd

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Re: The Asian Invasion
« Reply #168 on: February 16, 2019, 07:08:37 AM »



Time for another Asian chamber ensemble.  The Novus String Quartet formed in 2007 while the members attended the Korean National University of Arts.  They've done the competition circuit, studied with artists of note (eg, Christoph Poppen), and have been mentored by the Belcea Quartet.  They've got the background and they've got a recording contract.  I decided to give them a try with their latest recording from this calendar year.

The disc opens with the Berg.  One can't help but notice from the outset that the Novus play incredibly well.  Compared to the sometimes rough LaSalle, they glide along effortlessly or at least mask effort flawlessly.  Even the Arditti and the Juilliard seem no better equipped to handle the music.  In the Allegro misterioso, with the ensemble doing the pizzicato and sul ponticello night music-y thing, it seems like these young punks might one-up the established ensembles of old.  Come the Adagio appassionato, the Novus fall between the precision and detached intensity of the Arditti and the more voluptuous Juilliard, fortunately sounding closer to the latter.  The quartet generate ample tension, as they do in the Presto delirando, which, while it could sound even more intense, does a masterful job of generating an almost theatrical sense of musical long-arc development.  This comes home in the truly desolate sounding Largo desolato, which attains nearly end of career DSCH levels of darkness.  (Obviously, this means the ensemble must record some DSCH.)  While the Juilliard probably still set the standard, the Novus deliver the goods at an historically very high level.

Next comes Death and the Maiden.  The ensemble again offers supremely fine execution.  While they do not offer a sumptuous tone, there's enough weight to the sound that the music never sounds thin.  Indeed, when the foursome crank out fortissimo passages, there's weight, invariably accompanied by drive, that really satisfies.  The wide-ranging dynamics offered are most impressive, and never more so than when dynamics switch almost violently.  And dig the tartness and heft of the violins in the Allegro, where there's more beef than one might think from two scrawny wood boxes.  The Andante con moto starts off with one of the most effective presentations of the funeral march I've heard, with subdued volume, grimness, and superb viola playing that shadows the leader.  As the movement unfolds, the variations sound distinct yet flow together seamlessly, and the ensemble relish playing some of the quieter music with nice dynamic variation.  It seems like Schubert may have been directly influenced by ol' Ludwig van's funeral marches, and here more than in some other versions of the quartet, one can almost say the movement is the heart of the work.  Given the robustness of the Novus' playing, the very slightly measured tempo of the Scherzo both comes as something of a surprise and blends seamlessly with the prior movement.  No need for haste, it turns out.  And like the prior movement, some of he most delectable moments occur in the pianissimo playing.  The Presto comes off as rather dance like - a true tarantella - and more so than many other versions I've heard.  Again, the ensemble revel in fine dynamic control, and the combination of precision and flexibility, with rhythmic sureness, render a most satisfying conclusion.  I did no comparisons for this piece, but this is so freakin' good that it makes me think I should compare the Novus to some Big Names in a shoot-out. 

Here's a world-class release showcasing world-class playing of core rep.  I will definitely be keeping my ears open for other recordings by this ensemble.

The high-res download offers SOTA sound.  (It should be noted that the Juilliard's recording of the Berg manages to more than hold its own sonically when compared to this new disc, though.)
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Offline Todd

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Re: The Asian Invasion
« Reply #169 on: February 23, 2019, 05:53:53 AM »



I've been aware of pianist Won-Sook Hur since I spied her recording of the Diabellis.  So far, I've not gone for that recording, but when this mixed rep disc popped up for a few bucks, I figured I might as well hear what she can do.  Ms Hur was born and raised in Korea, did her early training there, and also did some studying in Austria.  She did the competition thing, too, and currently teaches back in her home country in addition to concertizing.  So, she has a vaguely familiar and properly credentialed background more or less in line with almost every other artist in this thread.  As always, the playing is more interesting.

The disc opens with Franck's Prelude, Choral, and Fugue.  Michel Block and Bertrand Chamayou aside, I've never really found other versions that I like.  Hur's is no different.  To be sure, it is well played and sounds lovely.  The Choral has a thick, heavy, organ-like sound to it which is not entirely unappealing, and the fugue is well played, but the piece ends up being another space filler for me.  People who love the piece may like it quite a bit more than I do.

Hur follows that with a piece by Korean composer Geonyong Lee, the eleven minute and change Sulla luce dell'estate. The best shorthand is to say it sounds like a blend of Debussy, Ligeti, and minimalism.  It has a pleasant forward moving feel to it, sometime vigorous, sometimes more austere, but Hur often seems to glide along.  The piece is quite nice, and the length seems just about right.

That gliding sensation returns at the opening of Ravel's Le tombeau de Couperin.  It sounds quite lovely.  The close, dry sound renders the fugue very clear and light, almost too much so.  It also sort of transforms into an almost Schoenbergian piece.  That can be good or bad.  I think it's good.  The Forlane keeps the light sound, but adds a nifty rhythmic sensibility.  Rigaudon keeps the rhythmic sensibility but adds a bit more heft to the mix.  Very nice.  The Menuet, while keeping the same forward momentum of most of the music on the disc to this point also displays some playing that borders on the precious, especially on the softest end of the spectrum.  It's not at all bad, especially in the coda, and it's more observation than criticism, but it's there.  Hur ends the piece with a swift, cleanly articulated, and dynamically micro-managed Toccata.  The close, dry sound and at least quasi-precious style pays big dividends here.  There's much to enjoy in the Ravel piece.

The disc ends with Rachmaninoff's Corelli Variations.  The piece comes off fairly intimate in scale, with less emphasis on either virtuosic flair or lush, romantic style, and more on clarity and forward drive, though it's not rushed.  It's more modernist Rach.  It's not the best recording I've heard, but there is something appealing there. 

Overall, the disc peaks with the Ravel, and offers something new in the Lee and a bit different in the Rach.  While hardly essential, it's nice to have.  As mentioned, the Dux sound is dry and close, with a sort of exaggerated "they are here" sound, making me think that Hur does not generate an especially big sound in person, but she doesn't need to.  The disc definitely sounds better through headphones than speakers.  Now I have to decide if when I want to hear Hur's Diabellis.
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Offline Todd

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Re: The Asian Invasion
« Reply #170 on: March 02, 2019, 06:36:53 AM »
I rather fancy YES's playing.  She's good.  Like, real good.  Love Modern Times.  Really, really enjoy the Brahms and Schumanns disc with Ms Kang on violin.  I was gonna get YES's Mozart disc and then wait for her next release on whatever label does the right thing.  Then, out of the blue, I learned of her early, teenage years recording of Chopin's Etudes on Universal Korea.  I had to have it.  A Discogs dealer had it.  I bought it.  Within minutes of learning of its existence.  It arrived.  Then I listened. 

Things start off well.  The C Major Etude is quick 'n' clean, YES moving up and down the keyboard with ease, hittin' all them notes.  The A Minor finds YES delivering the goods again.  Come the E Major, it becomes clear that this youthful recording is an early career effort, where a stupidly talented artist displays world-class technical capacity married to not fully mature interpretive insights.  The playing is fantastic and quite beautiful, but it seems a bit surface-y.  There are just shy of perfect levels of emotional and musical engagement.  I suppose there are worse fates than listening to perfectly executed studies lacking the last word in depth.  This is brought home in the C Sharp Minor, with its evenness, superb dynamic variegation and control, and unstoppable forward drive that nonetheless doesn't sound rushed.  Ditto the light 'n' crisp Black Keys etude.  As the Op 10 set continues, a pattern emerges: YES sounds more compelling in the faster, more challenging music, and a bit less so in the slower, potentially more contemplative music.  Again, there are worse fates than listening to such well played music, particularly when one gets a one-two punch combo like the last two etudes in the set.

Then things change.  Turns out Op 25 is where it's at for YES.  The pianist opens with an Aeolian Harp where she seems to be truly strumming the melodies.  Then in the F Minor, her independence of hands and clarity is just superb, and her differing dynamic levels sounds so good that one almost wonder if she recorded the parts separately and then engineers pasted them together, so steady and well-controlled and precise are the fine gradations.  Then the F Major is a crazy good gallop, with rhythmic exactitude sufficient to put some of the biggest names on record to shame.  Where has this rendition been all my life?  (Really, it was when listening to this etude for the first time when it dawned on me that this set went from high end conservatory quality to for-the-ages good).  The rhythmic goodness, married to super-clean staccato chords, remains on display in the A Minor.  Again, where has this been all my life?  The E Minor is nearly a mind-bender, with an ear-opening feel similar to Pogorelich's take on the Scherzos, without the excess eccentricity.  The outer sections are dissonant and slightly blocky yet perfectly clean and clear, and the sections sound absolutely perfect.  The middle section, if not plumbing the depths, is more introspective and approaches Eusebius levels of romantic dreaminess.  Someone evidently forgot to tell YES that the G Sharp Minor Etude is supposed to be difficult because it seems dashed off without a care.  Again, there's some of that purposive blockiness, but there's also an effortlessness to some of the playing, and such clean delineation of dynamic levels, that one just kind of wonders how she does it.  In the C Sharp Minor, YES shows that, when inclined, she can deliver something approaching a true romantic sound.  True, there's a studied feel to it, but it still works.  The Butterfly etude flits along nicely, with YES again playing with disarming ease, throwing off the octaves in such a way as to say "what, this is hard?".  My own personal listening style is to hear the last two etudes as sort of a grand coda.  YES changes that by making the B Minor the beginning of a mega-coda of the set.  Grander of scale then the preceding pieces, and imbued with ample drama, it clears the path for a pristine yet somewhat cool (appropriately so, I would say) A Minor etude.  While she could push the playing, creating more even more drama, YES rather seems more intent on keeping things steady and moving forward with an unstoppable feel.  No need to rush things; the music takes care of itself.  YES delivers the arpeggios of the final etude in suitably rising and falling, waxing and waning, and swelling fashion to offer a theatrical yet controlled end to the set.  Whew!

This disc offers something a bit unusual.  Op 10 is performed at a world-class level, but ultimately is just a study in superb playing.  Op 25 is hands down one of the best takes I've heard.  It's phenomenal.  YES as a teenager displays chops and insights that even some of the biggest names fail to deliver.  Here's a mixed bag disc: half superb, half mind-numbingly, standard-setting great. 

Superb sound.

It's hard to see how this is not one of my purchases of the year.


(Hat tip to amw for pointing out the very existence of this disc.)
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Offline Todd

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Re: The Asian Invasion
« Reply #171 on: March 09, 2019, 05:47:50 AM »



William Youn's third appearance, and this may be his best recording to date.  This disc is a knockout first note to last.  Youn starts the recital with Schumann's Humoreske, and this performance reinforces the impression I gained from the last new to me disc I listened to, that as great as his Mozart is, his Schumann is possibly even better.  There's never the potential reservation about Youn playing too beautifully for the music's own good.  No, he plays just as ravishingly as the music can take.  He also displays even more affinity with Florestan, with mighty nimble playing, ample speed, power, and animation.  The faster passages of Hastig rush at the listener, and the listener greedily accepts every note.  Youn still revels in the Eusebius music, too, to be sure.  It sounds unfailingly lovely.  And there's a flow to the pianist's Schumann, with every bar sounding as natural as one dare hope for.  The entire piece unfolds as one glorious work.  I cannot say that Mr Youn's rendition surpasses others by giants of the keyboard.  I cannot say that renditions by giants of the keyboard surpass Mr Youn's.

A blob of Schubert's Valses sentimentales, D779, with a Trauerwalzer D365/2 tacked on, follows.  Somewhat against expectations, Youn plays the pieces more crisply and less lyrically than expected.  Don't take that to mean that Youn skimps on lyricism, because he does not; rather, the playing most effectively blends rhythmic incisiveness and lyricism.  Next comes the Schubert/Liszt Auf dem Wasser zu singen gem.  Youn adds drama and notable power to the mix.  This is romantic music, albeit immaculately prepared.  Superb.  A couple Clara Schumann/Franz Liszt pieces follow.  Youn ends up being the perfect pianist for these works.  The writing is puffed up by Liszt a bit, but that is no bad thing, and there's some tender beauty here.  Next is an all-Clara piece, the Scherzo No 2, Op 14.  Youn makes as strong a case for the composer's music as the great Ragna Schirmer.  The piece has romantic flair and nicely proportioned writing, large scale and more intimate style, and more tenderness, all in less than four minutes. If he opted to commit more of the composer's music to disc, I would not hesitate to snap it up.  Another Schubert/Liszt piece,Staendchen, S560/7 follows.  Youn again displays a fine touch for the music, and the just forceful enough playing at the start evokes aural memories of the theme music to the quite excellent TV show Succession.  One of Liszt's Soirees de Vienne, the sixth, follows, and of course it's excellent.  While this is just a single piece, it just makes the listener hope that perhaps the pianist will lay down the reference version of the complete set.  Indeed, the poetic sound he generates in this souped-up Schubertian piece at times make me hope he also records some other Liszt, especially the Années.  Finally, the all things Vienna themed disc ends with a Zemlinsky Albumblatt.  The playing sounds luxurious and supremely lyrical.  With it more modern sound, I now kind of want to hear what the pianist could do with Berg or Schoenberg, or even Lutoslawski.  Hell, I want to hear him play everything.

Not that I needed any convincing, but this disc from Youn demonstrates that if there was or could be a golden age for pianists, we're probably now living in it.

SOTA sound caps off another great disc by this great pianist.

Another purchase of the year from Mr Youn.
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Offline aukhawk

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Re: The Asian Invasion
« Reply #172 on: March 11, 2019, 04:23:00 AM »
On my browser this thread will soon be at its 10th page.  I just want to thank Todd and say how much I've enjoyed reading this and always look forward to the next update - and of course I've been led to sometimes new-to-me music that otherwise I would have missed.  From La Valse played by HK Lim (page 4) and Yeol Eum Son (page 6) via Scriabin by Klara Min (page 5) to Ravel by Jung-Ja Kim (page 7).  All valued additions to my collection.

Klara Min's discography is thin, though as luck would have it, her web-site states that she recorded for Steinway & Sons this month, with the release slated for June.  I don't know what she recorded, but I suspect I'll listen to it.

Her next outing turns out to be one of those mixed recitals hiding behind a cryptic album title - 'Evocation' - and was apparently recorded over 4 sessions spanning 20 months.  I listened to it without the benefit of the liner notes, but downloading and reading those subsequently it seems the 'evocations' in question are all night-themed, and progressively darkening in mood and texture.  The whole concept seems to me to be better suited to a concert recital than to a recorded one assembled from several sessions.

There is more Scriabin, and in the 2nd Sonata the pianist is in familiar territory from her previous CD recital.  This is followed (well, almost) by the 9th Sonata and 'Vers la flamme' which give Ms Min a rare opportunity to let us hear her more muscular side.  Vers la flamme is the most successful item in this collection, I think.  Interspersed between the 2nd and 9th sonatas we have some Mozart, the Fantasia in D minor K397.  Odd, to my way of thinking.  Though this piece does have a chromatic-ey feel so sits reasonably well in amongst the Scriabin and acts as a lighter interlude.  I suppose.

And all this is book-ended by two escapees from Messiaen's aviary - track 1 being l'Alouette lulu (the wood lark) and track 7 La Chouette hulotte (tawny owl).  For those not too familiar with the Catalogue d'Oiseaux, l'Alouette lulu is probably the most accessible of all Messiaen's mature piano works, really not far away from Ravel's Oiseaux triste or even, with a bit of a stretch, VW's Lark AscendingLa Chouette hulotte on the other hand, is a piece that I find rather hard going, crunchy chords evoking by Messiaen's own description "... terror, like the shriek of a murdered child."  Both pieces are about 7 minutes in duration.

Overall I found this mixed bag less successful than Klara Min's previous two outings, her Scriabin Preludes and her Chopin Mazurkas - but if you like this programme it's as well played and well recorded as ever.

I compared Ms Min's rendition of l'Alouette lulu with that by Momo Kodama, from her complete set of the Catalogue.  Momo Kodama is Japanese but entirely european-trained, I would suppose a short generation before Min.  Her tutors include Perahia, Schiff and Nikolayeva so I would imagine she knows her way around the Bach 48, but her discography is centred on 20th-century French piano music - some Debussy, some Ravel, quite a lot of Messiaen.

Although their overall durations are similar, Min takes the birdsong episodes much quicker than Momo Kodama does.  Min's birds are in a hurry, slightly manic, packing as much as they can into their little lives.  Kodama's are laid back and much more lyrical. The score marks "Un peu vif" which leaves the door wide open. Kodama's approach is quite close to the recording by Yvonne Loriod, who I assume knew the composer's mind better than anyone.  Min's approach is not.

This difference doesn't typify Momo Kodama's approach in general though.  I turned to her recording on ECM of Ravel's Miroirs (quite aptly coupled with more Messiaen and the short and pleasant 'Rain Tree Sketch' by Takemitsu) and compared Alborada del gracioso with the same piece played by Jung-Ja Kim (page 7 - I think maybe I like this recording more than Todd does).  Here there is a huge contrast, Kodama being brutal and modernist while Kim is elusive, impressionist.  I like them both, effectively it's like listening to two different pieces of music.  I think this ECM disc by Momo Kodama - titled 'La vallee des cloches' - is recommendable - but maybe not if you prefer your Miroirs soft-grained.


Another ECM issue interleaves Debussy's Etudes with Etudes by Toshio Hosokawa, and although attractively played and well recorded, the justapositions don't work for me.  A bit of editing of the playlist and all is well. There is a more traditional Debussy recital by Momo Kodama which I haven't listened to yet - it's on the same Triton label as her Oiseaux.
« Last Edit: March 11, 2019, 04:30:09 AM by aukhawk »

Offline Todd

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Re: The Asian Invasion
« Reply #173 on: March 16, 2019, 05:51:22 AM »



I'd say it feels wrong, but I just can't.  Liszt's solo piano works work best as solo piano works.  Word is the dude could play.  Why bother with transcriptions?  To this point, I'd not bought any recordings of transcriptions for cello and piano, but to that point, Sung-Won Yang had not recorded the works.  Reinforcing that point, Yang's musical partner for this set is Enrico Pace.  It actually took me much longer than originally anticipated to snap up this recording because I kept waiting for a reasonably priced, US market, physical media release, but it has not been forthcoming.  Finally, I had enough and went the high res download option, which ended up being cheaper than physical media anyway. 

I started in with dizzyingly high expectations.  I can happily report my expectations were met.  The first disc opens with the Romance oubliee, and Yang starts off up high and makes his instrument positively sing.  He uses big ol' dollops of vibrato from time to time, but only because he should.  La lugubre gondola, S134 follows.  This rendition almost makes one think that this is how the piece should always be heard.  It helps to have a Lisztian of Pace's quality tickling the ivories, and he lays the beautiful, granitic foundation for Yang's dark, often melancholic, and sometimes searing and painful playing.  This is a lament for the dead, no doubt.  It remains incredibly beautiful throughout.  On a normal recording, this could be considered the highlight, but here it's just one extraordinary performance among many.  Die Zelle in Nonnewerth follows, and if it's not quite as good, it is superb, unabashedly romantic, and demonstrates what Yang can do when he wants to play with a big, fat tone - he can energize a listening room.  In the first Elegie, were it not for his superlative control, one might be tempted to say that Yang pushes things over the top.  But he doesn't.  He can't.  It is Liszt, after all.  Next up is something that I thought could not possibly match the solo version, the Consolations.  I can console myself in the knowledge that I was correct that the solo version bests this chamberfied take, but with that written, this set is all that and then some.  The set sort of pyramids, starting strong, peaking with gorgeous renditions of the third and fourth pieces, then returning to merely world-class level writing and playing.  Yang and Pace deliver the second Elegie in a manner that sounds nearly as superheated as the first.  So far, so superb.  Then things get really good.  Two pieces from Harmonies poétiques et religieuses close out the disc: Ave Maria and the title track, Cantique d’amour.  The Ave Maria, properly done (eg, FFG), is a highlight of the solo piano set, and here, with Yang doing melodic duties, the piece sounds possibly even more beautiful than the piano version.  Throw in no little solemnity, but no excess weight, and one gets a piece meant for this instrumental pairing.  The final piece pulls off the same trick, and when called on to take center stage, Pace is more than up to task.  Indeed, this piece, even more than the ones before it, made me want to hear him in more solo work, including more solo Liszt, and more to the point, the complete Harmonies.  Should this much Liszt chamber music be this good?  Of course!




But wait, there's more!  This super-deluxe set also include Chopin's works for piano and cello.  As luck would have it, I picked up another quite recent recording of two of the same works from Sol Gabetta and the great, great, great Bertrand Chamayou, so a little A/B action ended up on the listening menu. 

I started with the Yang/Pace take on the sonata.  The playing picks up where the Liszt left off, then turns everything up to 11.  Impassioned, yet precise, the dynamic duo nearly manage to make musical short work of the opening Allegro moderato.  It holds together tightly, and probably due to the wide, dramatic dynamic swings and at times nearly undulating tempi, it seems to move more quickly than normal.  Of course, Yang's at times hyper-romanticized (pseudo-) abandon (he's got everything well under control) makes one avidly listen to each pulsating bar with eagerness.  Too, Pace knows when to assert himself, though he never, ever, ever merely bangs away.  The Scherzo offers even more of the good stuff.  While Pace is no wallflower, it really is Yang's show here.  And as he has demonstrated time and again, when he plays up high, he is in his element.  Things finally cool off in the Largo.  Yang adds some fat sounds to his playing, and Pace provides a perfect accompaniment.  Gorgeous and echt-romantic, it falls passionately but gently on the ear.  The duo then belt out a rollicking finale, full of verve and polish and a suitably romantic feel, all in perfect proportions. 

Maintaining the same slightly impolite volume while I listened the first and second times around, I learned that the more spaciously recorded Gabetta/Chamayou effort is marked by a more piano-centric overall approach.  There's certainly nothing wrong with that, much the less so when it's Mr Chamayou doing the do, but the balance changes the tenor of the piece a bit.  The overall approach is still very vibrant, and one can certainly say romantic, it just sounds a bit cooler.  And a bit more congested.  Gabetta is no slouch, and partly due to her partner, she sounds less pronounced and up front.  She also can't produce the middle and higher register goodness that Yang can.  It's also possible to say that Chamayou comes to dominate proceedings too much at times, something Pace, or Pace and the engineering team for Decca would never let happen.  (Given his other chamber efforts, I'd say it's more down to the artist.)  The younger duo keep things a bit swifter and more classical in mien throughout the rest of the movements.  While undeniably well played, even with its slightly shorter timing, it seems longer and doesn't work as well.

For the rest of the listening, I just ran through the rest of each respective disc.  The Yang/Pace disc has only the Introduction and Polonaise Brillante, Op 3 and the transcription of the posthumous C-sharp minor Nocturne.  The Intro and Polonaise is simply a delight.  Bouncy and romantic, with Yang's cello singing, it glides along.  Pace displays some mean Chopin chops, with positively delicious right hand playing.  He really ought lay down some solo Chopin.  In the Nocturne, Yang takes the erstwhile right hand playing and transforms it into romantic lied of Schubert-Goethe combo quality, and a smoothness of delivery that some singers would kill for.

Gabetta and Chamayou make a convincing case for Op 3, and here Chamayou's undeniable awesomeness pays dividends as he dashes off Chopin's writing with lithe effortlessness.  (Yeah, let's hear what he can do with the Etudes.)  The piece doesn't breathe and flow as naturally; it often seems pushed straight through to the end.  It's excellent, it's just than Yang and Pace are more to my taste.  There's no doubt that the best thing on this disc is the frisky, frolicsome Grand Duo Concertante, out of which the pair make a musical meal.  The one Etude and two Nocturne transcriptions are fairly classical in demeanor, and though lovely, less atmospheric than what the more experienced duo offer. 

Sound for the Yang/Pace recording is straight-up SOTA.  Sound for the Gabetta/Chamayou is not quite as good, but it's hard to call it something other than SOTA.

This twofer is another blockbuster recording from Yang and Pace.  The Gabetta/Chamayou ditty ain't half bad, but it ain't as good as the music provided by the older fellas.
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Offline Todd

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Re: The Asian Invasion
« Reply #174 on: March 23, 2019, 06:01:45 AM »



Violinist Dami Kim popped up while I searched for, well, I don't know what.  I don't have too terribly many recordings of Dvorak's works for violin and orchestra, so I decided to give this one a try.  The young Ms Kim, going by her official online bio, was born and raised in Korea before heading to the States to study.  While there, she studied under Aaron Rosand at the Curtis Institute, and Miriam Fried at the New England Conservatory.  She did the competition thing, notably being presented co-first place at the 2012 Joseph Joachim International Violin Competition, along with Alexandra Conunova, she of the kick-ass Prokofiev Violin Sonatas with Michil Lifits.  Ms Kim collaborates with a variety of B- and C-list artists and bands.  This Sony disc is her first big recording.  Joining her are British conductor Damian Iorio and the Slovak Philharmonic.

The Concerto starts the disc.  Nothing sounds amiss from the band, and Ms Kim plays very nicely, indeed.  Her tone is not the richest or warmest I've heard, but it is pure, and her playing sounds clean, clean, clean.  She clearly doesn't miss practices.  In comparison to the Mutter/Honeck recording, some vibrance and color go missing.  On the flip side, Kim, while no faceless player, doesn't impart as much personality as the more famous soloist.  Pick your poison, I guess.  I can report that the Adagio, which comes off as rather understated, flows along nicely enough and if not particularly moving, also doesn't succumb to romantic excess.  The Finale also sounds a bit understated - too understated.  It's not at all bad, it's just that here one misses what Mutter and Honeck deliver.  Overall, a nice if not world beating performance of the Concerto. 

Much better are the Romance and Humoresque.  While the playing lacks much in the way of Czech character - however one wants to define it - there's no doubt that Kim has got the goods.  She plays with a freer but never overwhelming vibrato, and she imparts more feeling to her playing.  It's hard to decide which piece is more effective, but the violinist is revealed to have more than just modern chops.

So, Ms Kim can play.  That's more or less expected at this point.  I certainly would not mind hearing her in something else, though it's hard for me to pinpoint what.  I'll just say Bartok, because why not? 

Not wanting to pay a lot for another recording of the concerto, I went with a four buck MP3 download.  While I wouldn't be surprised if a lossless recording sounds better, sound here is fully acceptable and fully modern.  Indeed, I've heard recent recordings in full res sound with less appealing sonics.
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Offline Todd

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Re: The Asian Invasion
« Reply #175 on: March 30, 2019, 05:37:39 AM »



Sunwook Kim's second appearance, again focusing on old Ludwig van.  Here, the pianist and his label go the tried and true route of famous name sonatas.  I have to think there is still a market for such discs, I mean beyond people who buy entirely too many Beethoven recordings.  (I know, I know, that's impossible.)

The disc opens with Op 13.  Kim goes for very long, very dramatic sustains and a slow-for-effect tempo in the Grave.  His penchant for stark contrasts also appears.  After a long-ish 2'20" or so opening, he transitions to the Allegro di molto e con brio and zips through.  To say that he plays with admirable dexterity and clarity is an understatement.  This is modern conservatory perfection recorded for posterity.  The Adagio cantabile is a model of serenity and perfect tempo control, if not, perhaps, expression.  The Rondo again displays a mix of stark dynamics, super-clean playing, and a back and forth between sligtly slow and slightly fast playing.  Executive brilliance cannot be doubted; interpretive goodness can.

Der Mondschein follows.  Kim goes for a just slightly swift, cool, not always riding the sustain pedal Adagio sotenuto.  His dynamic gradations on the lower end of the spectrum sound quite fine.  The Allegretto is well executed and faceless.  The Presto agitato is energetic and faceless.  Here, the mostly stark dynamic contrasts work to the music's benefit.

Such an approach to dynamics might seem tailor-made for the Appassionata.  Turns out it kinda is.  Throw in Kim's supremely accurate fingerwork and ability to fluidly move back and forth between slow-ish and fast-ish tempi, and one gets an Allegro assai of no little superficial impressiveness.  The bass-treble doubling before the coda is more than that.  The Andante con moto is well paced and the third variation, while not fast, per se, is played at a lower than expected level and sounds gentler than expected.  The effect is sort of like what Pogorelich does with the arpeggios in Chopin's Third Scherzo, though to a lesser and less impressive degree.  Still, it's a nice touch.  Kim launches into a boisterous and powerful, but not unleashed, Allegro ma non troppo.  There's enough there to keep one's ears fully engaged.  The same holds true until the coda, where Kim demonstrates what he can do with awesome speed, power, and accuracy.  A very nice recording.

Overall, the disc is characterized by playing sure to earn top marks in a conservatory setting, and contains a very good Op 57.  In the context of hundreds of recordings by pianists old and new, great and less so, famous and obscure, it does not really stand out.  At least sound is superb.

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Offline Todd

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Re: The Asian Invasion
« Reply #176 on: April 06, 2019, 06:45:35 AM »



Many moons ago, whilst in the early phases of buying all extant LvB sonata cycles on the market, I picked up the set of complete opus number solo piano works by Beethoven played by Yukio Yokoyama.  The cycle is not a favorite, but there was enough there to encourage me to snap up most of his Sony recordings.  One of those discs contains works by Ravel and Debussy, including Yokoyama's own solo transcription of Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune.  His playing on the disc is characterized by quick, clean playing.  I don't think I've ever heard a faster Mouvement from the first book if Images, for instance.  While not top shelf, I thought to myself since then that I'd like to hear what he can do in other Debussy.  Last year's anniversary year presented the opportunity with the release of both Préludes.  I waited a bit, but 'twas time to give his Préludes a shot.

One needn't listen past Danseuses de Delphes to hear that Yokoyama's take is not of the gentle, introspective sort.  He's much closer in approach to Krystian Zimerman, though speedier.  Yokoyama hits the keys hard, though he doesn't bang, and he creates a bright, colorful tone, if not an especially luxuriant one.  A combination of reverberant recording technique, more than occasional generous pedaling, and quick 'n' clean fingerwork result in a cool or even cold, Prokofiev-infused Debussy soundworld.  That will not be to everyone's taste.  But there are benefits.  The glissandi in Voiles are models of efficiency, and every time Yokoyama plays glissandi again, they display the same trait.  The combination of piano, style, and recording also renders some high register playing especially bright and tangy, and when all elements combine, the result can be fast, exhilarating/exhausting (according to taste) playing, as in Les collines d'Anacapri.  To the extent one would want to call this Debussy impressionistic, one could say that Ce qu'a vu le vent d'ouest starts off with powerful gusts and quickly turns into gales of notes hurled at the listener in such a way as to take one's breath away.  Nuance goes AWOL.  Yokoyama can back off, as in  La fille aux cheveux de lin, but he's at his best in bigger pieces.  The quite speedy La cathédrale engloutie lacks in nuance and sufficient dynamic gradations down low, but the pianist delivers near ear-shattering fffff playing. 

Very often in my listening experience, pianists with a more "modern" approach fare better in the second book, and so it goes here.  Yokoyama's cool or cold style sounds more measured and the music flows a bit better.  He still hits the keys hard, but the effect seems a bit more appropriate.  He again displays how much power he can generate in La puerta del Vino, which sounds faux-mechanical and thundering.  This is followed by a quick, clean, precise, hard-hitting Les fées sont d'exquises danseuses; fairies nothing, these dancers are speed-addled street dancers displaying no little grace combined with raw physicality.  Général Lavine – eccentric sounds more militaristic than eccentric under Yokoyama's fingers.  If, somehow, the listener were to lull off while listening, Grave Hommage à S. Pickwick Esq. P.P.M.P.C. would jar the listener awake.  This becomes the second book's La cathédrale engloutie, with room energizing weight and ear-shattering climaxes.  Yokoyama fares well in the last two pieces, with the combination of style and recording technique establishing a wonderful swirl of notes and color in Feux d'artifice, before exploding into wall and window rattling crescendos.  It is not subtle.  It is effective. 

Yokoyama as a pianist is variable.  His overall style remains similar in everything I've heard, yet sometimes he can be especially effective, and sometimes not.  His style is often cold, austere, exact, and geared toward a large concert hall.  In something like Beethoven's piano concertos, that's enough.  Those trills in the Emperor still come close to setting the standard, for instance.  Likewise, in Chopin, his Ballades are at times aggressive and nearly overwhelming, while his Nocturnes often sound ice cold and detached.  Both succeed rather marvelously.  Here, in Debussy, he's less successful.  If I want hard-hitting Debussy, Zimerman or, to a lesser extent, Beroff fill the bill.  (When I write lesser extent, I mean in how hard hitting it is; Beroff's complete Denon cycle remains my first choice.)  This set is most definitely not a first, second, or third choice.  But as an alternative to an alternative, it works.  I'll group it with the very different Gregory Haimovsky as a more modernist take worth sampling from time to time.

Sound for the high res download is reverberant, clear, bright, and clean, inviting impolite listening levels.
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Offline Todd

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Re: The Asian Invasion
« Reply #177 on: April 13, 2019, 05:12:11 AM »



Thus far I've heard YES play romantic solo works and chamber works, and modern solo works.  Her most recent release on Onyx contains a classical era concerto and solo works, all from Wolfie.  I figured I ought not to wait to sample YES's stylings in music from the era.  This particular disc also happens to include the last recording made by Neville Marriner, so it has that going for it, too.

Turns out the Marriner thing is important.  If you're gonna showcase your Mozart bona fides in a concerto, here the Elvira Madigan special, the right support can make a difference.  It's difficult to think of a conductor from the last few decades with superior Mozart credentials.  It almost goes without saying that Neville and his band lay down a just right orchestral foundation for the soloist, always stylish, cleanly executed, clear, and never too obtrusive when it shouldn't be.  Yep, it's just right for the duration.  That leaves the soloist.  YES apparently doesn't have time for fusty tradition, as she puts her own personal stamp and embellishment on her introduction.  Fortunately for the gentle listener, her style and approach are both spot-on.  Based on her liner notes, though she doesn't write about it with respect to the concerto, one gets the sense that the spirit of improvisation informs the pianist's playing.  To be sure, she plays the work just splendidly and doesn't drop or add notes willy-nilly, but in the intro and the cadenzas, there's some freedom.  And there's some freedom in the miniscule personal touches - the slightest accents, ultra-precise dynamic shading, etc - that backs up the sense of the freedom.  It's all terribly well prepared, so it's not of the super-spontaneous type of playing.  Marriner and crew open the Andante with fabulously beautiful string playing, and in the movement, YES demonstrates that she can do subdued, beautiful, and touching slow movements with a proper classical sound, too.  The final movement is energetic and light and has more of YES's finely honed playing.

The rest of the disc is devoted to solo works.  Things start off with the Variations in C on Lison dormait, K264.  YES shows herself to be a Mozartian of no mean status.  The playing is so infused with a sense of (fully prepared) fun, with such fine fingerwork, that one just lets the fun and goodness unfold.  It's impossible not to relish the super-clean arpeggios (how does she repeat some of them so cleanly?) and trills, and the super-fine dynamic differentiation.  Just, yeah.  Continuing on with the C feeling, K330 follows.  YES again keeps things light and crisp.  She peppers her playing with little touches here, there, and everywhere, never overdoing anything.  You want lovely cantabile playing in the second movement?  You got it.  You want pep and flawless dynamic gradations in the Allegretto?  You got that, too.  Yessir, this is a fine take on the sonata.  (Between YES an Billy Youn, might we be at the beginning of Korean hegemony in Mozart sonatas?  I, for one, welcome the new Korean overlords!)  YES ends the disc in the minor key, with K475.  Played at something of a leisurely pace much of the time, with an aurally intoxicating beauty, YES knows when and where to apply the power, yes she does.  Since she's so good at everything she does, it's quite alright to compare her to the best of the best, and the great Piotr Anderszewski one-ups her in every facet, but not by much.  Really, it's a taste thing, and Anderszewski is less concerned about classical constraints, so it's perfectly possible to enjoy YES even more.  YES is her own woman, and delivers a rendition for the here and now, as well as for the ages.  Now, she simply must record K457.  It would be unspeakably cruel to leave her fans in the lurch.

Tip-top sound.

YES joins William Youn and John Paciorek in the 1.000 batting average category. 
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Offline amw

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Re: The Asian Invasion
« Reply #178 on: April 15, 2019, 07:54:02 PM »
This is (probably) a dumb question since I assume it's how you first heard of her—also how she came to the attention of most of the piano playing world—but do you have any of her performances from the 2009 Van Cliburn Competition?

The available recordings include this CD, which I haven't listened to in its entirety—I have heard the Barber sonata which is probably the best performance that piece is ever likely to receive, & the Godowsky which she plays like it's a masterpiece in which every note is imbued with meaning; not a pianist who agrees with the concept of a "virtuoso showpiece" evidently. And they're only available as MP3s as far as I can tell but Cliburn has also released the preliminary, semifinal and final rounds in their entirety. Same recordings as the pieces on the CD obviously, all from the competition, but also two Schubert impromptus, Schumann's Fantasiestücke and Beethoven's Op. 111 all of which are intriguing prospects. (I've listened through some of them but not paying particularly close attention.)

And of course there's this CD which may have varying levels of availability, the major work there being Schumann's Humoreske.

For pure piano technique Son is probably in the top half dozen worldwide alongside people like Hamelin, Volodos or Joseph Moog but also with an interpretive ability that's hard to fault—the description you gave of Steven Osborne ("museum quality") seems to apply. In any case I think she's a major artist who deserves much more exposure in the West.

Offline Todd

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Re: The Asian Invasion
« Reply #179 on: April 20, 2019, 04:26:35 AM »
This is (probably) a dumb question since I assume it's how you first heard of her—also how she came to the attention of most of the piano playing world—but do you have any of her performances from the 2009 Van Cliburn Competition?


Not a dumb question at all.  I've not heard the Cliburn disc.  I typically steer clear of (non-Chopin) competition recordings, for various reasons.  YES came to my attention when Modern Times was released, and then I started sampling some live items on YouTube.  She struck me as something a cut above the norm.  Her studio efforts to date completely reinforce that initial impression.  She's a major talent, a great pianist on the order of some of the biggest names of the past, and she should be getting the full international release treatment.  I very much want to hear what she can do in person.  I actually had the opportunity just this week, as she was down the valley in Corvallis, but I didn't know about it until it was too late.  She played Chopin's Preludes and Rach's Op 32 Preludes.

I should note that of the specific names you mentioned, I've heard Hamelin (and may again next season) and Moog in person, and both were simply remarkable.  Hamelin was ill and still delivered a technically remarkable Gaspard, and Moog was unnervingly poised, playing with an imposing efficiency and a volume where his mezzo-forte was forte and his forte was fortissimo, all without a hint of edge, and all under perfect control at all times.  On a Steinway B.  His recital was the only one where the loudness became uncomfortable.  Only Behzod Abduraimov has compared in that regard, and then only fleetingly.  (Not coincidentally, both pianists played a lot of Liszt in their recitals.)

Hearing Volodos in person is a bucket list thing.  I can actually see travelling great distances to hear him in person. 
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