Star Quality

Seong-Jin Cho demonstrates the finesse and artistry of his Chopin playing in first studio recording album for Deutsche Grammophon

“All in all, this latest Chopin Competition winner can stand proud next to the likes of such illustrious past winners as Pollini, Argerich and Zimerman”, Pianist (London), February 2016

Long queues formed outside record stores throughout Asia when Deutsche Grammophon rush-released its recording of live highlights from Seong-Jin Cho’s performances at the 2015 International Chopin Piano Competition. The South Korean pianist stormed the album charts in countries across the region last November, securing his status among classical music’s brightest rising stars and attracting worldwide critical acclaim. His first studio recording for the yellow label, set for international release on Friday 25 November, presents the compelling coupling of Chopin’s Piano Concerto No.1 in E minor and the same composer’s Four Ballades, works at the heart of the 22-year-old artist’s repertoire. “This really is dream repertoire for me,” notes Cho, who fell in love with the Ballades as a child after hearing Krystian Zimerman’s recording of the works for Deutsche Grammophon.

Seong-Jin Cho’s performance of the First Piano Concerto during the Chopin Competition final was described by the Telegraph (London) as “unequivocally brilliant”. He recorded the work this June at London’s famous Abbey Road Studios in company with the London Symphony Orchestra and its new Principal Guest Conductor, Gianandrea Noseda. His interpretations of the composer’s Ballades were set down in September at the Friedrich-Ebert-Halle in the Hamburg borough of Harburg. The Concerto and Ballades are ideal compositions for Cho to demonstrate his rare gift for musical characterisation and subtle expression. “I notice very much the operatic feeling in the First Concerto, for instance, in the ornamentation,” he comments. “This made it particularly interesting to work with Maestro Noseda, who conducts so much opera.”

Dr Clemens Trautmann, President Deutsche Grammophon, is certain that Cho’s latest recording will appeal to the many thousands of music-lovers who bought his debut album in 2015. “Seong-Jin is a remarkable pianist, one who combines the energy and élan of youth with musicianship of great seriousness and maturity,” he comments. “We are delighted to be working with a performer who communicates so directly and openly and connects with listeners’ hearts. This recording of Chopin’s First Piano Concerto and Four Ballades captures the star qualities of his artistry and the profound insight of his interpretations.”

The live stream of Seong-Jin's performance in Deutsche Grammophon’s Yellow Lounge club series in early October 2016 with the Ballads by Chopin was followed by approximately 200,000 viewers worldwide.

Chopin’s First Piano Concerto provides the focal point for Seong-Jin Cho’s schedule during the opening months of his 2016–17 season. He joins the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra and its Music Director Jacek Kaspszyk for a series of performances of the work during the orchestra’s tour of the United States (19 October – 7 November), and returns to the score again on 1 and 2 December for appearances in Liverpool with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Vasily Petrenko. Chopin’s collection of 24 Préludes, Op.28, a highlight of Cho’s first DG album, stands proud in his choice of solo recital repertoire for next January’s tour of Taiwan and Japan. The Préludes feature again in a run of recitals the following month in Germany and the United States, including Cho’s Carnegie Hall debut on 22 February, and a tour of Italy in March.

Since 2012 Seong-Jin Cho has lived in Paris and has been continuing his studies at the Paris Conservatoire with Michel Béroff. He signed an exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon in February 2016. “I am very happy with my first studio recording for the yellow label,” he notes. “This was such a rewarding experience for me and I am so pleased now to be able to share it with others.”


Chopin: Piano Concerto No.1 / Ballades – International Release 25 Nov 2016