Seong-Jin Cho

“Seong-Jin Cho … brings his understated, coiled-spring pianism to Debussy, and his playing is as riveting as ever.” The Guardian, reviewing Debussy, November 2017

Intense reflection and expressive insight are among the attributes cultivated by Seong-Jin Cho, qualities apt to connect with audiences at the deepest levels of imagination and emotion. The South Korean pianist’s mature musicianship and refined artistry secured him First Prize at the 17th Chopin International Piano Competition in October 2015. The widespread critical acclaim that followed his victory was, notably, echoed by a wholehearted and instantly enthusiastic public response. When Deutsche Grammophon rush-released performances recorded live during the Chopin Competition, the all-Chopin album was propelled to the No.1 spot in the Korean pop chart on the strength of pre-release orders alone. Having secured triple platinum sales in Korea within a week of its release in November 2015, it rapidly went on to attract a worldwide following.

In January 2016 Cho signed an exclusive contract with DG. His first studio album for the yellow label was released the following November and featured works which the pianist described as his “dream repertoire” – Chopin’s Four Ballades, recorded in Hamburg, and the Piano Concerto No.1 in E minor, recorded at Abbey Road Studios with the London Symphony Orchestra and Gianandrea Noseda. His next album was an all-Debussy affair featuringImages I and II, L’isle joyeuse, the Suite bergamasque and Children’s Corner. Released in November 2017, in time to mark the composer’s centenary in 2018, it garnered rave reviews, the Telegraph hailing the pianist’s exceptional achievement in capturing “that special Debussyan combination of grandeur and quicksilver lightness and sudden passion”.

Cho’s latest album, set for release on 16 November 2018, features a selection of works by Mozart, a composer in whose music the pianist has long been steeped. As well as performing the Sonatas K281 and K332, he also joins forces with Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe for a dramatic reading of the Concerto No.20 in D minor K466.

Born in Seoul on 28 May 1994, Seong-Jin Cho began playing piano at the age of six and gave his first public performance at eleven. In September 2008 he won the Sixth Moscow International Frederick Chopin Competition for Young Pianists and the following year took First Prize at the Hamamatsu International Piano Competition in Japan. Having moved to Paris in 2012 to study with Michel Béroff at the Conservatoire, he is now based in Berlin.

Paving the way to Cho’s victory at the prestigious Chopin International Piano Competition were Third Prize successes at the 2011 International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow and the 2014 Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition, as well as concerto dates with leading conductors and orchestras. He continues to perform on a regular basis with such eminent figures as Vladimir Ashkenazy, Myung-Whun Chung, Valery Gergiev, Vasily Petrenko, Mikhail Pletnev, Esa-Pekka Salonen and Yuri Temirkanov, and major international orchestras including the Czech Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Mariinsky Orchestra, NHK Symphony, Munich Philharmonic, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Philharmonia Orchestra.

Last season’s highlights included his debut with the Berliner Philharmoniker and Sir Simon Rattle in Berlin, and three further performances with them of the Ravel Concerto in G in Frankfurt, Hong Kong and Seoul; performances of Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No.2 at the Hamburg Elbphilharmonie with the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester and Krzysztof Urbański; recital tours of South Korea, Japan and North America featuring works by Beethoven, Debussy and Chopin; and recitals with baritone Matthias Goerne in Vienna, Paris and London.

After a series of festival appearances over the summer, including an acclaimed debut at the BBC Proms in August, he began the 2018-19 season by giving a series of recitals with violinist Kyung Wha Chung in South Korea. In October and November he will tour North America with both recital and concerto performances, before returning to South Korea and Hong Kong to play Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No.3 with the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and Sir Antonio Pappano. In the New Year he will return to North America for appearances including a recital at Carnegie Hall. Further highlights include performances of Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto at the Paris Philharmonie with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France and Myung-Whun Chung and Rachmaninov’s Third Piano Concerto at the Barbican in London with the London Symphony Orchestra and Gianandrea Noseda (February and March 2019 respectively).