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From Lim Yunchan to Paik Kun-woo, classical pianists abound this summer

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Lim Yun-chan performs during the 'Yunchan Lim Piano Recital,

Lim Yun-chan performs during the "Yunchan Lim Piano Recital," his first solo recital in his home country in 18 months, at Lotte Concert Hall, Friday. Courtesy of MOC Production

By Park Jin-hai

This summer will be a boon for piano enthusiasts, as Korean pianists of international acclaim are performing across the country.

Opening the season is Lim Yun-chan, 20, who shot to fame after becoming the youngest winner of the Gold Medal at the 2022 Van Cliburn Competition in Fort Worth, Texas. The young virtuoso with a huge fan base in and out of Korea launched his recital series in Seoul, Friday.

During the "Yunchan Lim Piano Recital," his first solo recital at home in 18 months, Yun gave a spine-chilling intense and moving performance, captivating the hearts of the audience that filled the 2,000-seat Lotte Concert Hall.

The program included German Romantic composer Mendelssohn's "Songs Without Words" Op. 19, No. 1 in E Major and Op. 85, No. 4 in A Minor, Russian composer Tchaikovsky's "The Seasons" and another Russian composer Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition," the composer's 1874 musical tribute to his close fallen friend Viktor Hartmann, where each of 10 movements is inspired by Hartmann's sketches and drawings.

Yun will wrap up his concert tour back in Seoul at the Seoul Arts Center, June 22, after performing in Cheonan on Sunday, Daegu on Wednesday, Tongyeong on Saturday, Bucheon on June 17 and Gwangju on June 19.

Pianist Cho Seong-jin  /  Courtesy of Crediatv

Pianist Cho Seong-jin / Courtesy of Crediatv

Another celebrated classical pianist, Cho Seong-jin, joins the lineup, performing at the Gwangju Arts Center on July 15 and the Gangneung Arts Center on July 16.

Cho's program will feature Ravel's "Archaic Minuet" and "Gaspard de la Nuit" as well as Liszt's "Années de Pèlerinage — Italie." The Gwangju performance is particularly notable, marking Cho's return to the stage in the southeastern city after a three-year hiatus.

Veteran pianist Paik Kun-woo, 78, known as the "truth-seeker on the keyboard," will take the stage at the Seoul Art Center on June 11 and continue his tour in Incheon on June 15, and Haman County, South Geongsang Province on June 21.

It is part of a nationwide tour celebrating his latest album "Mozart: Piano Works 1," released last month. While Paik has previously performed works by Chopin, Schumann and others, this will be his first recital featuring an exclusive program of Mozart compositions.

Pianist Paik Kun-woo / Provided by LG Arts Center

Pianist Paik Kun-woo / Provided by LG Arts Center

During a previous press conference, Paik said, "People seek their roots as they age and I think music is similar. I started with Beethoven and Mozart, then went into modern and contemporary music and now I feel like I'm coming back to where I started," explaining the reason for his decision to record an album of Mozart works for the first time in his 68-year career.

The program will include Piano Sonatas No. 2, Fantasy in D Minor (K. 397), Andante in F Major (K. 616) and Fugue in C Major (K. 394).

Pianist Kim Sun-wook is also returning to the solo stage for the first time in two years. Kim, who has been focusing on conducting activities as artistic director of the Gyeonggi Philharmonic Orchestra, plans to show his side as a pianist through this performance. He will perform Haydn's Piano Sonata in E-flat major (Hob. XVI:49), Schumann's Davidsbündlertänze and Schubert's Piano Sonata in B-flat minor (D.960) at the Seoul Arts Center Concert Hall on July 5.

The season will feature a visit from Russia's Mikhail Pletnev as well. He will perform all of Rachmaninoff's piano concertos at the Seoul Arts Center on July 27-28. On the first day of the performance, he will play Piano Concertos Nos. 1 and 2 and "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini," and on the following day, he will play Piano Concertos Nos. 3 and 4.

Park Jin-hai


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