“… this latest Chopin Competition winner can stand proud next to the likes of such illustrious past winners as Pollini, Argerich and Zimerman”, Pianist, February 2016
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 young South Korean pianist’s mature musicianship and refined artistry secured him First Prize at the 17th Chopin International Piano Competition in October 2015, since when he has won a significant international following, underlined by the pop-chart-topping status of his Deutsche Grammophon debut album, invitations to appear at the world’s foremost concert halls and a succession of superlative reviews. Cho is set to make several high-profile recital debuts this season, notably at Carnegie Hall (February 2017) and as part of the Amsterdam Concertgebouw’s Master Pianists series (June 2017). Recital tours will take in Japan, Taiwan, France, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Spain, Italy, the UK and the United States, while concerto performances will include a US tour with the Warsaw Philharmonic and appearances in the UK with the Liverpool Philharmonic and Vasily Petrenko, at the Philharmonie de Paris with the Orchestre de Paris and Tomáš Netopil, and in Italy with both the Santa Cecilia Orchestra and Valery Gergiev and the St Petersburg Philharmonic and Yuri Temirkanov.
“Everything is poetic, introspective, graceful”, noted the Financial Times in its summary of Cho’s DG recording of Chopin’s 24 Préludes, Op.28, while the Guardian concluded that “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.” And life for Seong-Jin Cho has, in many ways, been “all about the music” since childhood. Born in Seoul on 28 May 1994, he began playing piano at the age of six. His love for the instrument deepened after he began serious studies in 2004 and was fully confirmed when the 11-year-old musician gave his first public performance. In September 2008 Seong-Jin Cho 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. In 2012 he moved to Paris to study with Michel Béroff at the Conservatoire and established a new home in the French capital.
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 – Myung-Whun Chung, Valery Gergiev, Lorin Maazel and Mikhail Pletnev among them – and such major international orchestras as the Czech Philharmonic, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Mariinsky Orchestra, the NHK Symphony and the Munich Philharmonic.
Seong-Jin Cho’s competition victories and landmark debuts reveal him to be an exceptionally gifted young artist and have rightly earned him widespread critical acclaim. What is particularly notable, however, is the wholehearted and instant enthusiasm of the public response to his musicianship. When Deutsche Grammophon rush-released performances recorded live during the 2015 Chopin International Piano Competition, the all-Chopin album was propelled to No.1 spot in the Korean pop chart on the strength of pre-release orders alone and secured triple platinum sales within a week of its release in November 2015. It has since registered a total of nine-times platinum sales in Korea, achieved gold status in Poland, the land of Chopin’s birth, and attracted a worldwide following.
In February 2016 Cho signed an exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon. His first studio album for the yellow label will be released in November 2016 and features works which the pianist describes as his “dream repertoire” – the compelling coupling of 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.