Kun-Woo Paik and Beethoven, Endless journey

Kun-Woo Paik and Beethoven, Endless journey

By Prof. Satoru Sakaku, musicologist, professor at Tokyo University, for Auditorium Magazine. Translation to English by Mrs. Miyoko Weissenberg

Kun-Woo Paik in 2017 has been continuing his pilgrimage with Beethoven’s piano sonatas for over 6 months. From the end of March to the middle of October, thirty-two recitals were given in 24 cities of Korea, the same number of recitals as that of complete piano sonata works by Beethoven. He kept playing exclusively Beethoven’s piano sonatas. The recital was titled as “ Kun-Woo Paik and Beethoven, Endless journey”. I found it is a well-thought title, as the concept of “journey” is not linked to classical music in Japan. The climax of these continuous recitals cycle was the complete 32 works of Beethoven piano sonata’s recitals held at the concert hall of Seoul Arts Center from September 1st to 8th. It has been 10 years since Mr. Paik had presented the complete sonatas in 2007, and he must be surely the first Korean pianist having performed complete sonatas recitals for two times.

In the past when «Beethoven performers» like Backhaus, Kempff, Serkin or Arrau had been active, they were presenting Beethoven’s complete piano sonatas wherever they went. Even nowadays, there are pianists such as Rudolf Buchbinder, whose specialty is Beethoven’s complete piano sonatas performance. But they do not have repertoires as large as that of Mr. Paik’s, and it was not necessary for them to have that. How Mr. Paik who acquires such diverse repertoires of piano music represents his second performance of complete piano sonatas by Beethoven, a decade after his first recitals? It is an “event“ for not only Asia but also in the whole world of piano performance. I, who heard his performance of complete works 10 years ago at Guangzhou in China, went to Seoul to listen all of the recitals as well.

The most important aspect of performing the complete piano sonatas recitals is to construct the structure of the program. How these 32 works can be combined, by period of composition, tonality, scale of the piece or level of difficulty, or where “The well-known sonata” shall be included in the program (obviously one must think of marketing), etc., the pianist is tested to be intellectually insightful and musically analytical, and for listener it brings pleasure of discovering the performer’s intention of the program.

What Mr. Paik has represented in his program must be one of a “model response”. One shall pay attention to the fact that it is not the same program structure as that of 10 years ago. He was also using the score by Heinrich Schenker’s editions for this recitals. As far as I remember, he must has been using score by Henlé editions at the recitals of 10 years ago.

  1. Sep. 1st.:  Sonata nº 20, nº 1, nº 19 / nº 15 «Pastoral», nº 8 «Pathétique»
  2. Sep. 2nd.: Sonata nº 5, nº 3 / nº 12, nº 14 «Moonlight»
  3. Sep. 3rd.: (afternoon) Sonata nº 6, nº 7 / nº 16, nº 17 «The Tempest»
  4. Sep. 4th.: (evening) Sonata nº 10, nº 2 / nº 22, nº 23 «Appassionata»
  5. Sep. 5th.: Sonata nº 11, nº 18 «The hunt» / nº 9, nº 25, nº 21«Waldstein»
  6. Sep. 6th.: Sonata nº 4, nº 24 / nº 13, nº 26 «Les adieux»
  7. Sep. 7th.: Sonata nº 27, nº 28 / nº 29 «Hammerklavier»
  8. Sep. 8th.: Sonata nº 30, nº 31, nº 32 (without intermission)

I will give you a brief summary of my impressions as follows. The first recital which gives an overview of the early period of Sonatas known to be the three core works for piano students (nº 1, nº 19, nº 20), was a the most pedagogical and a rare opportunity to be performed by such a great Piano master as Mr. Paik. The second movements of «Pastoral» and «Pathétique» were performed with such deep feeling and became the moments of the night.

The second recital was combined by related tonality in major and minor in each session; one could feel at the latter part that there was the image of a funeral procession. The dotted rhythm that appeared in the first movement of the moonlight sonata implies a funeral bell and not the moonlight shining upon lake Leman* if the musical-rhetorical figure is taken for granted. He performed the 2nd and 4th movement of the  «Funeral March sonata» and the last movement of «Moonlight sonata» lively with plenty of energy, displaying the contrast between life and death.

At the third and fourth recital, he performed sonatas from the early period to two works (nº 16, nº 17) which led to «new road», then «Appassionata», offering various styles of 8 sonata pieces in one day held listeners’ attention. How marvellously he played at the short cadenza of 90 measures in the second movement of nº16! His performance of «The Tempest» and «Appassionata» which he also performed in Japan in the past, reminded me of the important Sumo match between highest-ranged «Ōyokozuna» sumo wrestlers’. He dominated the hall by his sense of uniformity in concentrated expressions at the last movement of « The Tempest», or by the coda in «Appassionata» which made me imagine an explosion of galaxy.

Mr. Paik’s’ fifth recital was quite brilliant, with his dynamic and passionate performance at the last movements of « The hunt» and « Waldstein», or with optimum expressions given to nº9 and nº 25 sonata which were like chamber music. At his 6th recital, three sonatas in E-flat major were aligned, he carefully represented each characteristic part in these movements, and the splendid performance of «Les adieux» deserved to be the final to conclude this recital.

Only the later period of 6 sonatas are left for recitals at last. The Sonata nº 27and nº 28 played in the first part of 7th recital could have been even better performed and be excellent by such an experienced and accomplished pianist as Mr. Paik. This was because probably at the beginning of nº 27, the chord of his right hand did not play as he intended and the first movement became incoherent due to this unexpected occurrence. It seemed to me that there is still some room left for consideration for tempo of each movement of No.28’s. The second and last movement’s allegro could have been adequate with a slightly calmer tempo. It is normal to have such occurrences, as recitals are organised almost every day, for 8 times.

His performance of «Hammerklavier» deserves to be one of the best performance one could listen at present. Among other active pianists, maybe Mr. Grigory Sokolov is the only one who can perform as same level as Mr. Paik. Mr. Sokolov’s Hammerklavier can be described as if he constructs in more than 50 minutes a great complex of Buddhist temples, while Mr. Paik will let us hear with large scale of lively grace of “Qi” (energy flow according to Chinese tradition), which he brought from the space. When it comes to the third movement, there is no one aside from Mr. Paik who could express such human and profound emotions.

On the eighth recital, Mr. Paik performed the three last sonatas perfectly, bringing the whole audience to completely a different world. The profound silence that came after he played the last cord of the last sonata, was the most noble and sublime moment achieved after the performance of 32 works by this superhuman pianist. Even if it was not done this time, I hope one day the 6 sonatas live performance would be recorded on CD.

It shall also be mentioned that the audience listened motionlessly to each one of 32 sonatas. Korea is at present a leading country of piano in Asia where they produce many young talented pianists. This is made possible due to people such virtuosos as Mr. Paik, teachers who have a global vision, and audiences who have great sensibility and ability to grasp musical expressions and emotions. The audiences who sincerely enjoy the performance, and give an explosive applause as soon as performance is finished (also endless requests for autographs and souvenir picture taking), are the ones supporting the foundation of Korean Piano world’s prosperity.

All together, the interpretation of Beethoven’s sonata by Mr. Paik during the cycle of these recitals was different from that of 10 years ago, and also from what we hear from CD. His free performing style was quite astonishing. He split in two hands for leaps of octave and chords in « Hammerklavier» and beginning of No.32, also in the same way for the opening part (so called the phrase of “Mannheim rockets”) and in bar 16-17th. of the No.7 on the third movement. He is often at a standstill when his impulsive desires for musical expression exceed the capability of piano as the instruments, but this shall be accepted as one of his characteristic side of his art.

Kun-Woo Paik portada disco sonatas Beethoven

His pianism from technical, physical and mental aspects are all at a complete maturity state. In my opinion, the essential qualities in his performance is his capacity of «spirit channeling ». While the ultimate goal of occidental music is to go beyond, ascending to heaven, to an ideal world, Mr. Paik communicates with composers’ spirit in heaven when interpreting his compositions, and brings them back to be possessed as he likes. It is an opposite vector.

This “possession” creates a particularly realistic atmosphere as if Beethoven himself was playing during Mr. Paik’s performance, and became a source for such a strong persuasion to the audience. In other words, Mr. Paik is a Shaman piano performer (or, Mudang and Baksu in Korean Shamanism), with the aesthetics, which have Asian particularity. Such « possessive » style of pianists are not seen in Korea nor in Asia.

Spiritually rich and sophisticated “Theatricality“, in his production of music and gesture during his performance is also his particularity and not seen with other pianists. I wonder if he obtained this capacity through the influence of his beloved Partner Yoon Jeong-hee. This quality brings the best effect when one interprets works of composer such as Beethoven, whose musical works are mainly constituted of dramatical contrasts.

Previously, Mr. Paik had realized “Theatricality “ and “possession” though great amount of concentration and strong determination. But since this recital, these elements are more relaxed, and we see as ”Two beings”, Beethoven and Mr. Paik appearing freely one after another during performance. He succeeds to give the ideal expressions depending on the musical character of each movement on sonata, and made almost the best interpretation we can listen.

There is another thing that became clear to me. It is his future picture. Mr. Paik will probably be the first Asian master pianist who will be successful at forefront throughout his life, like Mr. Horowitz who was recording until the day before he passed away, or Mr. Rubinstein who gave recitals until 89 years old, or Mr. Horszowski who was an active performer until 99 years old. Mr. Paik’s achievement of this second integral Beethoven piano sonata recitals, brought his pianism and as a person too, to a new higher level. One shall keep more eyes on his further success.

 

 

 

Perry So, Magic Flute at Royal Danish Opera

Perry So, Magic Flute at Royal Danish Opera

Maestro Perry So, who recently joined ACM Concerts, conducts 11 of the 20 performances of Marco Arturo Marelli’s production of The Magic Flute at the Royal Danish Opera in Copenhague. Performances will take place on December 5, 7, 9, 12, 14 y 20 , January 12 , February 27, and March 1, 4 and 11.

In the while he will also conduct the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra in a four programs festival, Vancouver Symphony and the Manhattan School Chamber ORchestra; then he will come back twice to Spain to conduct the Orquesta Sinfóncia de Principado de Asturias on March 22 and 23 and April 19 y 20; and to Germany to conduct the Nürnberg Symphoniker.

Perry So

Recent debuts include the Cleveland and Minnesota Orchestras, Houston, Detroit, New Jersey, Israel and Shanghai Symphony Orchestras, the China Philharmonic, and the Residentie Orkest in the Hague. He has been a frequent guest both at Walt Disney Hall and the Hollywood Bowl following his stint as an inaugural Dudamel Conducting Fellow of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He led the Hong Kong Philharmonic with Lang Lang in an internationally televised celebration of the 15th Anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China at the close of his four years as Assistant, then Associate Conductor. He toured the Balkan Peninsula with the Zagreb Philharmonic in the first series of cultural exchanges established after the breakup of Yugoslavia.

Perry So casual fondo blanco

So received the First and Special Prizes at the Fifth International Prokofiev Conducting Competition in St Petersburg. His recording of Barber and Korngold’s Violin Concertos with violinist Alexander Gilman and the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra was awarded the Diapason d’Or in January 2012. He has recorded extensively with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and the BBC Concert Orchestra.

He is known for his wide-ranging programming, including numerous world premieres on four continents and works from the Renaissance and the Baroque. He has conducted productions of Così fan tutte, Die Zauberflöte, Turn of the Screw, Giulio Cesare, Gianni Schicchi, and Die Fledermaus. His commitment to working with young musicians has taken him to the Australian Youth Orchestra, the Round Top Festival, the Manhattan School of Music, the Hong Kong Academy for the Performing Arts, and the Yale School of Music. He has assisted Edo de Waart, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Gustavo Dudamel, Lorin Maazel and John Adams. Born in Hong Kong, Perry So holds a degree in Comparative Literature from Yale University.

 

 

 

Pacho Flores, Israel Tour with Christian Lindberg

Pacho Flores, Israel Tour with Christian Lindberg

Recently returned from the tour that took him to five China cities, next November, 24 Pacho Flores begins a new tour in Israel with the Israel NK Orchestra under the baton of its Chief Conductor, Christian Lindberg, that will take him to the cities of Givat Brenner, Ein Hahoresh, Jordan Valley, Tel Aviv, Netanya, Neharya and Mizra, where finish on December, 2. The program, titled “Breathtaking Virtuosity”, includes the Concert for two trumpets by Vivaldi, that Pacho shares with the orchestra soloist Guy Sarig, and Akban Bunka by the own Lindberg.

Pacho Flores Deutsche Grammophon

But the cooperation between these two artists has a larger scope: Lindberg will conduct Pacho and the Arctic Philharmonic in the third recording of Pacho for Deutsche Grammophon. The recording will take place at the Stormen Konserthus, Norway, between April the 30 and May the 4, 2018. In November 2018 the same artists and orchestra will make a European Tour; and in 2019 Pacho will perform the absolute premiere of the new trumpet concerto that Lindberg is composing for him, with a Spanish orchestra and under own Lindberg conducting. Actually Lindberg tells that Pacho is the new star on the sky of brass.

Pacho Flores, commissions and premieres

Between the most relevant commitments of Pacho for the near future, it stands out the shared commissions of new trumpet concertos dedicated to him to premier all around the world along the next seasons. First of all, Arturo Marquez’s, will be premiered between September 2018 and August 2019 in Mexico, USA, Japan and Spain. Next are Roberto Sierra and Paquito D’Rivera whose premieres will take place between 2018 and 2020. All of the three new concertos will be recorded together with Efraín Oscher‘s Mestizo, a concert premiered in 2010 by Pacho and performed more than two dozens of times since then.

In the while Pacho will also premiere a work by himself, Cantos y Revueltas, inspired on work songs and traditional Venezuelan music, with the Real Filharmonía de Galicia under Manuel Hernández-Silva‘s baton the bext 11, 12 and 13 of January, 2018 in Santiago, Vigo and A Coruña; and a new concerto by Giancarlo Castro with the Ulster Orchestra and Rafael Payare on the 23 of Febrero, 2018.

 

 

 

 

Vicent Alberola joins ACM Concerts

Vicent Alberola joins ACM Concerts

ACM Concerts is proud to announce that conductor and clarinetist Vicent Alberola joins our roster in exclusive representation. Renowned as one of the best clarinetists of today, he combines both careers since he begin to conduct already twenty years ago.

Vicent Alberola

Vicent Alberola is Principal conductor of Orquesta del Real Sitio, the 430 Vigo Chamber Orchestra and guest conductor of the Opera of Perm, Russia, at the same time he is also principal clarinet of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and Les Dissonances, in Paris. He discovered his vocation as a director with the Youth Symphony Orchestra of Galicia in 1996, the group he artistic director during eight years. In 2003 he was appointed director of the Youth Orchestra of the Opera de Madrid and in 2007 director of the Youth Orchestra of Soria. 

Vicent Alberola joins ACM Concerts

Vicent Alberola. Photo: Ricardo Ríos

Vicent Alberola has directed at the Teatro Real of Madrid with Madrid Symphony the following operas: Rita, by G. Donizetti, La Bohème, by G. Puccini, Don Giovanni, by W. A. Mozart, Persephone, by I. Stravinsky, El Gato con Botas, by X. Montsalvatge, Iolanta, of P. I. Chaikovsky, G. Verdi’s Macbeth and most recently L’Elissir d’Amore, by G. Donizetti. At the same time he has directed several symphonic programs with the Madrid Symphony Orchestra, the Opera Orchestra of Perm, Orchestra of Valencia, Orchestra of Valles, the National Youth Orchestra of Spain, Symphony of Castilla y León, the MMCK of Tokyo and the group Musica Aeterna from Perm, Russia.

His studies were conducted with Walter Boeykens at the Royal Conservatory of Antwerp, Belgium, George Pieterson (Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra) and Larry Combs (Chicago Symphony Orchestra). Alberola was for more than 20 years first clarinet Madrid Symphony Orchestra and Galicia Symphony Orchestra. During the past decade has been guest principal clarinet with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Lucerne Festival Orchestra, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Orchestre Les Dissonances MMCK Tokyo and Orchestra, groups with whom we have had the opportunity to play the great symphonic repertoire under the baton of Claudio Abbado, Mariss Jansons, Riccardo Muti, Daniele Gatti, Daniel Harding, Andris Nelsons, Gustavo Dudamel, and Alan Gilbert Nicola Luisotti, among others.

 

 

 

Christian Vásquez joins ACM Concerts

Christian Vásquez joins ACM Concerts

ACM Concerts is proud to announce that Venezuelan conductor Christian Vásquez joins our roster in exclusive representation for Spain and Portugal. Despite his youth, Christian is Chief Conductor of the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra, in Norway; and Principal Guest Conductor of the Het Gelders Orkest, in Arnhem, Holland. In addition he is also Chief Conductor in the Orquesta Sinfónica Teresa Carreño in Venezuela; and he was also Principal Guest Conductor of the Gävle Symphony Orchestra between 2010 and 2013.

Christian Vásquez, conductor

Christian Vásquez became Chief Conductor of the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra at the beginning of the 2013/14 season, inaugurating the start of an initial four-year term with Mahler Symphony No. 2 in the orchestra’s new hall in August 2013. The 2015/16 season saw him become the Principal Guest Conductor of the Het Gelders Orkest, starting his tenure with a tour of the Netherlands featuring an all-Latin programme. He is also Music Director of the Teresa Carreño Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, notably leading them on a tour of Europe which saw them perform in London, Lisbon, Toulouse, Munich, Stockholm and Istanbul.

Christian_Vasquez_Noticia_ACM Concerts

Christian Vásquez by Wolf Marloh

Following his debut with the Gävle Symfoniorkester in October 2009, one of his first appearances in Europe, Christian was appointed Principal Guest Conductor (2010-2013). He has worked with the Philharmonia Orchestra, Residentie Orkest, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Vienna Radio Symphony, Camerata Salzburg, State Symphony of Russia, Tokyo Philharmonic and Singapore Symphony. In North America, he has conducted the National Arts Centre Orchestra (Ottawa) and Los Angeles Philharmonic, the latter during his participation in their Young Artist Fellowship programme.

Christian’s 2013/14 season included projects with the Royal Northern Sinfonia, Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, Galicia Symphony, Berlin Konzerthausorchester, Prague Radio Symphony, Warsaw Beethoven Festival and Turku Philharmonic. 2014/15 saw Christian’s first opera engagement in Europe at the Norwegian Opera for Carmen as well as returns to the Arnhem Philharmonic, Helsinki Philharmonic, and Turku Philharmonic. Highlights of the 2015/16 season included projects with the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, the Prague Radio Symphony, and Poznan Philharmonic. Last season, Christian made his debut with the Rotterdam Philharmonic and with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra and Pinchas Zukerman. He also reunited with the Turku Philharmonic, Helsinki Philharmonic and collaborated with the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra. The summer also saw Christian make his debut with the Norwegian National Youth Orchestra on a European tour.

In addition to his regular commitments in Stavanger and Arnhem, 2017/18 sees Christian return to the Danish National Opera for New Year’s concerts with the Royal Danish Orchestra. He will also make his debut with the Norwegian Radio Orchestra. Further orchestral highlights include collaborations with the RTE National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland and a European tour with the Het Gelders Orkest.

 

 

 

Conductor Perry So joins ACM Concerts

Conductor Perry So joins ACM Concerts

ACM Concerts is proud to announce that the conductor from Hong Kong, Perry So, joins our roster in exclusive representation for Spain and Portugal. First and Special Prizes in the Prokofiev International Conducting Competition in St. Petersburg and first Dudamel Conducting Fellow at the Los Angeles Philharmonic, So comes from an amazing Opening Concert with the Orquesta Sinfónica de Tenerife and trumpet player Pacho Flores.

In the 2017-18 Season, conductor Perry So returns to the Orquesta Sinfónica del Principado de Asturias as the orchestra’s Artistic Partner. He makes his European operatic debut at the Royal Danish Opera in Die Zauberflöte, opens the season at the Orquesta Sinfónica de Tenerife, and debuts with the Szczecin Philharmonic and the Nürnberger Symphoniker, which he will lead on tour to Milan. Other highlights include a return to the Vancouver Symphony, and a four-program festival with the Cape Town Philharmonic.

Recent debuts include the Cleveland and Minnesota Orchestras, Houston, Detroit, New Jersey, Israel and Shanghai Symphony Orchestras, the China Philharmonic, and the Residentie Orkest in the Hague. He has been a frequent guest both at Walt Disney Hall and the Hollywood Bowl following his stint as an inaugural Dudamel Conducting Fellow of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He led the Hong Kong Philharmonic with Lang Lang in an internationally televised celebration of the 15th Anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China at the close of his four years as Assistant, then Associate Conductor. He toured the Balkan Peninsula with the Zagreb Philharmonic in the first series of cultural exchanges established after the breakup of Yugoslavia.

Perry So frontal azul

Perry So received the First and Special Prizes at the Fifth International Prokofiev Conducting Competition in St Petersburg. His recording of Barber and Korngold’s Violin Concertos with violinist Alexander Gilman and the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra was awarded the Diapason d’Or in January 2012. He has recorded extensively with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and the BBC Concert Orchestra.

He is known for his wide-ranging programming, including numerous world premieres on four continents and works from the Renaissance and the Baroque. He has conducted productions of Così fan tutte, Die Zauberflöte, Turn of the Screw, Giulio Cesare, Gianni Schicchi, and Die Fledermaus. His commitment to working with young musicians has taken him to the Australian Youth Orchestra, the Round Top Festival, the Manhattan School of Music, the Hong Kong Academy for the Performing Arts, and the Yale School of Music. He has assisted Edo de Waart, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Gustavo Dudamel, Lorin Maazel and John Adams. Born in Hong Kong, Perry So holds a degree in Comparative Literature from Yale University.

 

 

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