Cho's reading of the Piano Concerto no. 1 is, on the whole, bright-toned and clean-textured. He's got a real feeling for the music, its lyricism, its many fluctuations of tempo, and its dreamy poeticism. His playing of the Concerto's many octave runs is precise . . . On the whole, his is a vibrant, impassioned reading of the Concerto, with a sweeping performance of its big first movement; a gorgeous, dreamy second; and a robust, rhythmically astute account of the finale. Gianandrea Noseda [here conducts the London Symphony in a warm, nuanced accompaniment] . . . [4 Ballades]: there's much to like about Cho's playing in the set. They brim with color. Textures are, by and large, lucid . . . Expressively, the most successful are the last two, which brim with poignancy -- especially the long, lyrical stretches of the F minor (no. 4).
The tenderest passages in the concerto have a touching reticence, and there are times in the Ballades when he almost seems to be enjoying hanging back and confounding our expectations of exactly where this music's passionate eruptions happen . . . this is definitely a disc that confirms a major talent.
In Chopin's glittering and lyrical Piano Concerto no. 1, the E Minor, he blends poetry with a stream of limpid, sparkling fingerwork that is never overblown or showy . . . supported by a keenly played accompaniment from the London Symphony Orchestra . . . [Cho's playing of the Ballades is] fit for the intimacy of the salon. At times, the music seems to linger on the border of a dream world.
It is Noseda who sets the tone of the performance with an introduction that is full of purpose and not a little swagger . . .[it is not so much Cho's] effortless clarity and articulation or lightly pedalled fioritura that capture the attention as much as his ability to let the music breathe. Every time the first movement's ineffably lovely second subject returns, it becomes more poignant in Cho's hands. His phrasing here and in the "Romanza" is truly heart-melting and if the last movement is marginally less special than its predecessors, that hardly counts against this memorable interpretation . . . [the four Ballades, too,] have an authority and assurance that compels attention . . . listen to the magical opening of No 2, the deft highlighting of the contrapuntal lines in No 3 (a masterly reading) and the controlled impetuosity of No 4 and you are left in no doubt . . .
. . . a most impressive calling-card. His playing is expressive, vividly coloured and thoughtful throughout, one has the sense of genuine curiosity for and delight in this music. Noseda accompanies superbly, securing fine playing and, where necessary, gossamer-fine textures. A class act, and an encouraging start to what should be a long and distinguished recording career.
[Chopin 1]: Cho's treatment of the principal melodic ideas in the opening movement is fluid and lyrical. Even his ornaments come across more as small eddies in a current than clusters of notes on a page. The second movement Romance is exquisite. Cho manages to retain a fragility about his playing, even through the slightly more assertive middle section. His technical display in the final movement is flawlessly clear. The Ballades too, reveal Cho's fascination with the singing qualities of Chopin's ideas. Much of the Ballade No. 1 in G Minor Op.23 is remarkably understated, making for a starker contrast with the outburst of the middle section as well as the closing measures. The Ballade No. 2 follows in a similar vein. The effectiveness of Cho's playing lies as much in his virtuosity as in his ability to fall into Chopin's moments of repose with a delicacy that transcends the pianissimo markings.
. . . [Cho impresses in the First Piano Concerto with] his limpid technique and elegance of phrasing . . . Cho does his utmost to make his style convincing, as witness to remarkable delicacy with which he states the melody that opens the second movement . . . [Noseda takes pains to make Chopin's] orchestration more than a throwaway, with phrasing that's as elegantly shaped as the soloist's. As pure sound, the LSO recorded at London's Abbey Road Studios could hardly be more beautiful. If this kind of ultra-refinement appeals to you, Cho's reading fits the bill . . . a true collaboration . . . [in Ballade no. 1 Cho gives] a performance that intends to draw us in so intimately that poetry succeeds on its own . . . One asset is Cho's rich, solid tone. When he finally arrives at a great climax, the sound he produces swells impressively. DG's recorded sound is just as impressive, being as full and lifelike as any I've ever encountered . . . a pianist of taste and elegance, gifted with interpretative maturity beyond his years.
[Chopin / Concerto no. 1]: Cho has made a fluid singing line his own artistic priority, much in the arioso tradition inherited from Mozart by way of Hummel. Not only do the softer passages -- in E Major-- of the rather declamatory first movement prove gracious, but Cho's phrasing of the melodic tissue of the Romance: Larghetto movement echoes with Old-World tracery. Noseda has a supreme orchestral ensemble in the London Symphony, and their contribution in the strings and woodwinds provides a transparent, suave haze for the keyboard's "operatic" musings, rife with what the Poles call "tesknota", or yearning, pained, nostalgia. The progression of linked, arched phrases enjoys a natural, flexible line, revealing no cloying, no artificial profundity . . . The pervasive, easy lyricism of this performance will garner many admirers; and I warrant that this interpretation will stand tall . . . the improvisatory power of the [g minor Ballade] flashes by in sparkling colors from Cho, his left hand's clearly enunciating the chromatic, pungent bass line and its emotional depths. The coda, the eternal bane for aspiring virtuosos, comes off as a crisp, dramatic resolution that carries us musically, not theatrically . . . [in the F Major Ballade,] Cho captures the intimate dialogue, true, but no less the contrary motion of both hands and heart as the a minor mode completely absorbs the manic coda. The A-flat Major Ballade generates much sunshine . . . and Cho graduates its tenor to assume monumental dimensions. His flamboyant, sonorously ample, free-wheeling realization . . . ended in a happy, opulent sensibility . . . [and the fourth and final Ballade proceeds] with a lithe, driven fluency . . . Cho has engaged us consistently, poetically and pianistically -- the virtues of a Chopin pianist who has earned his place in this special pantheon.
. . . [Cho's] playing is unfailingly cultivated and his sound beautifully focused and poised . . . [Chopin 1]: right from the fortissimo octaves of the piano's entry, Cho commands the work, and he leads the dance in the finale.
. . . [Cho brings] flexibly shaded rubato to the Ballades and the First Piano Concerto . . . [and has] unusually detailed accompaniment from the LSO and Gianandrea Noseda . . .
. . . superb performances . . . Here is his first-ever studio recording, and he shines . . . [conductor Noseda] shapes the orchestral contributions superbly . . . [Cho gives his concerto] interpretation a perfectly lyrical slant; yet it is the attention to detail that impresses most. Nothing is taken for granted, while in the central Romanze, Cho spins his line as if from silk. The music has a lovely sense of space and the pianist finds a delicious touch that transforms the skitterings of the finale into magic . . . The tender moments of Ballade No. 1 are lulling without turning to the somnolent; the more fiery passages still hold perfect clarity . . . [the parts of No. 2 are] perfectly in balance, voice-leading a particular joy . . . [No. 3] blossoms splendidly . . . [No 4 finds Cho in consistent form,] the inner-voice trills superbly done within a wonderful, overarching sense of flow . . . Cho has his own voice, perfectly attuned to Chopin.
. . . un Premier concerto tout en tendresse, tout en douceur, comme s'il s'excusait de se jouer des éléments virtuoses avec tant de facilité en les donnant toujours transparents et pianissimo, se concentrant avant tout sur la ligne mélodique . . . est le meilleur témoignage de sa quête franchement différente de ce qui se fait trop souvent.
. . . le jeune Seong-Jin Cho trouve une grâce rare d'une délicatesse . . . il livre dans son premier enregistrement studio pour Deutsche Grammophon une magnifique version des quatre "Ballades" . . . [Chopin / Piano Concerto no. 1]: Dès son entrée, le toucher de Seong-Jin Cho ravit, laissant transparaitre une maturité impressionnante dégagée de toute tentation d'impressionner . . . [le piano vient contrebalancer l'orchestre] cet effet grâce à une finesse empreinte d'émotivité . . . les quatre "Ballades" impressionnent elles aussi . . . bien une capacité émotionnelle personnelle de Seong-Jin Cho, particulièrement développée dans l'opus 23 . . . la dernière pièce, magnifique opus 52 en fa mineur, est d'une formidable volupté . . . un magnifique CD que tout passionné de Chopin doit absolument écouter!
Seong-Jin Cho offre un Concerto pour piano de Chopin riche en finesse et maturité sonore, accompagné par un orchestre résolument tourné vers le bel canto mozartien. S'en dégage alors un dialogue musical où les deux forces se complètent, le premier osant l'intonation légère, là où le second couvre ses arrières par un son robuste et immédiat . . . l'interprétation semble se construire davantage sur l'impression que sur le sentiment, se différenciant . . . l'ensemble venant privilégier le poids de la matière . . . son articulation se révèle séduisante . . . Concernant enfin les Ballades, Seong-Jin Cho livre une lecture jouée avec apaisement et plénitude, confirmant ainsi sa quête permanente de pureté sonore. Un jeune talent à suivre.
. . . son interprétation du Concerto no. 1 de Chopin ne cède jamais aux sirènes d'un romantisme exacerbé . . . une lecture apollinienne et sobre . . . lisse et imperturbablement sereine . . . [Chopin / "Ballades"]: humbles, retenues, épatantes techniquement . . .