SEONG-JIN CHO

SEONG-JIN CHO

FRÉDÉRIC CHOPIN
Préludes op.28
Piano Sonata No.2 In B Flat Minor, op.35
Int. Release 06 Nov. 2015
1 CD / Download
0289 479 5332 6


Everything is poetic, introspective, graceful . . .

His performance of the 24 Preludes Op 28 is ravishing. The wonderfully crisp, unfussy articulation one quickly takes for granted, but the restraint and subtle discrimination of Cho's playing, combined with his silvery, never fulsome sound, is constantly beguiling . . . nothing is done just for show; it's all about the music.

Here is clear evidence of a wonderfully secure and well-balanced artist who couples a gorgeous piano tone with fine musical instincts. Playing Chopin is never easy: consider the finesse and technique required for the rubato, where the right hand is meant to flow freely over a steady left hand. Cho manages this to perfection and shapes the music exactly as he wishes. His Préludes op 28 are like a continuous story, one that makes the listener eager to hear how the tale will unfold. The Second Sonata, with its famous funeral march, is woven together so well that the four rather incongruous movements develop organically, from the attacking opening chords to the final whispering unison that runs up and down the piano.

. . . a winner from start to finish . . . a secure and well-balanced artist who couples a gorgeous piano tone with fine musical instincts . . . [Cho] shapes the music exactly as he wishes. His Préludes opus 28 are like a continuing story, one that makes the listener eager to hear how the tale will unfold. The Second Sonata, with its famous funeral march, is woven together so well that the four rather incongruous movements develop organically, from the attacking opening chords to the final whispering unison that runs up and down the piano. The last movement alone leaves one gasping for breath . . . there's no shallow flashiness with this pianist. 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.

Cho is impressive . . . There are lovely moments in the Preludes. The expert pacing of No 2 (A minor) turns silences to strong dramatic effect. No 4 (E minor) achieves a genuine pathos . . . No 24 (D minor) is note-perfect . . . Cho's playing exhibits admirable clarity of texture . . .

He delivers all the bombast and meets the blazing technical demands of the repertoire with confidence. It's also a very moving listening experience for its mature approach to the familiar fragilities that Chopin requires. Cho spends critically important fractions of seconds delaying passing notes and dissonances to intensify each moment of uncertainty. The "Préludes Op.28" contain a universe of emotions beautifully portrayed with complete conviction. The "Piano Sonata No.2 in B-flat Minor Op.35" demonstrates Cho's command of Chopin's rich vocabulary. This is particularly evident in his treatment of the third movement's central passage where the simple melody moves slowly, unhurried and with minimal accompaniment. Cho lingers courageously creating a powerful contrast to the gravity of the surrounding "Marche funèbre".

. . . remarkable . . . [Cho] really is phenomenal: this music seems to flow out of him with such relaxed and elegant perfection that one gladly accepts his interpretations . . . [the dazzling virtuosity in his account of Prelude No. 16 is convincing] and his envoi with No. 24 is positively regal . . . Cho's ancillary pieces are exemplary . . .

Cho has a formidable technique and his interpretations exude an impressive maturity that carries total conviction. His account of the "Preludes" -- by turns dark, moody, introspective, exuberant -- stands comparison with Pollini's stellar 1975 DG recording, both technically and artistically, and there can be no higher praise than that. He favours slowish "tempi" to bring out every detail. The live recordings sound sonorous and weighty, with natural piano tone and minimum audience noise.

His sound in the first of the Op 28 Preludes has warmth and clarity. A sure sense of texture and line characterises this playing. Cho is also capable of locating the profundity at the heart of Chopin without overdoing the rubato, and nowhere is this better heard than in the A major Prelude. He finds transparency within turbulence, too . . . The Sonata is given a concentrated, compact performance . . . The contrasts of the second movement give way to a "Marche funebre" that includes moments of great beauty. But it is the finale that contains the finest playing of the disc: the touch is flighty but the conception fully thought-through . . . [a] debut disc, then, from a pianist who shows huge promise.

. . . [Cho's account of the Préludes op. 28] is remarkable in showing no evidence of gold medal-itis. Nothing is banged out to impress a row of judges, and care is taken to be thoughtful . . . I got the impression of a tasteful, steady, technically secure pianist of high quality . . . The "Funeral March" Sonata gives a fuller impression of Cho . . . He has presence and power, balanced with natural phrasing and a complete lack of affectation . . . impeccable technique, with the staccato chords in the scherzo delivered very cleanly and no fuzziness in the shadowy fast passagework in the finale . . . Finally, the same virtues extend to the two short pieces, a poised Nocturne in C Minor and a not-too-heroic Polonaise in A-flat . . . Seong-Jin Cho is already an attention-getter, and some of his strengths, such as how freely his two hands play against each other and his easy phrasing, can't be learned. He's a natural at Chopin . . . The recorded sound is up to the best studio standards.

Cho's account is remarkable in showing no evidence of gold medal-itis. Nothing is banged out to impress a row of judges, and care is taken to be thoughtful . . . I got the impression of a tasteful, steady, technically secure pianist of high quality . . . [the " Funeral March" Sonata] has presence and power, balanced with natural phrasing and a complete lack of affectation . . . [Cho also displays] impeccable technique, with the staccato chords in the scherzo delivered very cleanly and no fuzziness in the shadowy fast passagework in the finale . . . the same virtues extend to the two short pieces, a poised Nocturne in C Minor and a not-too-heroic Polonaise in A-flat . . . Cho is already an attention-getter, and some of his strengths, such as how freely his two hands play against each other and his easy phrasing, can't be learned. He's a natural at Chopin . . .

Erstaunlich sind zunächst die manuellen Fähigkeiten Chos. Bei den Préludes begeistert der 21-Jährige daher vor allem mit den glanzvoll-virtuosen Stücken. Das G-Dur-Prélude (Nr. 3) spielt er so perfekt und trocken perlend wie Champagner, das glitzernd-drängende Fis-Moll-Prélude (Nr. 8) hat eine berauschende Fülle. Im ersten Sonatensatz wie auch im Scherzo zeigt Seong-Jin Cho zudem, wie souverän er auch mit komplexen Formen umgehen kann.

. . . [Seong-Jin Cho] bringt nicht nur die notwendige Reife und Musikalität mit, sondern die für Chopin auch so wichtige Freiheit der Interpretation, um dem Moment der Inspiration Raum zu lassen.

Le CD contient les Préludes, un nocturne, la Sonate n°2 et une polonaise, joués avec une présence étonnante et beaucoup d'intensité (surtout les Préludes) . . .

Seong Jin Cho peut etre un coréen comblé. L'asiatique dévoile chez Frédéric Chopin une sensibilité idéale pour l'univers si exigeant du Romantique . . . [il] dévoile un tempérament hors normes, une profondeur et une gravité hallucinante . . . Son Chopin a non seulement de la pure magie virtuose d'un toucher d'une finesse extreme mais il sait construire et batir des paysages d'une apre et furieuse mélancolie . . . Cho est un véritable poète des nuances . . . maitre artisan entre autres d'un rubato d'une rare intelligence . . . le témoignage ici magistralement enregistré par les équipes de Deutsche Grammophon de surcroît au moment des épreuves varsoviennes d¿octobre 2015 donne davantage de poids et de vitalité à ce formidable enregistrement . . . n'écoutez que ce Nocturne et vous saisirez l'urgence funambule d'un nouveau prince du piano. Capable d'une hypersensibilité arachnéenne comme d'un feu d'une exquise virilité, enchainés avec une continuité où percé le sens de l'architecture interne des oeuvres. Litteralement prodigieux.

Sa sonorité est ronde, profonde sans être lourde, ses pianissimos sont toujours timbrés et ses fortissimos jamais cognés . . . [dans des "Préludes" qu'il lit] avec sérieux et réalise avec des attentions de metteur au point minutieux . . . [son "Opus 28" est] radieux et rêveur . . . on sent que le pianiste cherche avant tout l'équilibre et l'harmonie . . . [dans la Sonate "Funèbre", Cho se libère de sa gangue et convainc sans peine] il peut sortir de ses gonds et se laisser porter par la puissance expressive du texte . . . [sa "Polonaise op. 53"] est bien jouée, héroique mais pas trop, soignée dans les détails. Belle . . .

  • Interview and live performance from Seong-Jin Cho

    Watch Seong-Jin Cho, winner of the 17th International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition Warsaw 2015, talking about the award, his first musical experiences etc.