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.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Pacho Flores, opening concert with Tenerife Symphony

Pacho Flores, opening concert with Tenerife Symphony

Pacho Flores is the guest soloist of the opening concert of Tenerife Symphony Orchestra‘s new 17/18 season on next October the 6th. Under the baton of Maestro Perry So, Pacho Flores will play the Concert for corno da caccia and strings by Johann Baptist Georg Neruda (c.1708-c1780), and Concierto Mestizo, by Efrain Oscher (1974). Mestizo is a commission from ‘El Sistema‘ and was premiered in 2010 in Caracas by Pacho Flores with the Venezuelan Youth Symphony Orchestra Simon Bolívar and conductor Domingo García. Since then, it was played more than twenty times in Brazil, Mexico, Germany, Austria, England, Spain and Japan, always by Pacho Flores.

Pacho Flores

Francisco ‘Pacho’ Flores is a first-prize winner of the Maurice André International Competition, the world’s most important trumpet contest, as well as the first prize at the International Competition Philip Jones and First Prize at the International Competition Citta di Porcia. Recently he was awarded with the Gold Medal by the Global Music Awards for ENTROPÍA, his last recording for Deutsche Grammophon with guitar player Jesús ‘Pingüino’ González. A product of the ground-breaking ‘El Sistema’, he is becoming increasingly recognized for his outstanding performing and recording activity that spans the solo, chamber, and orchestral media. Equally at home in the classical and folk styles, Pacho captivates audiences with his energetic delivery and colourful tone.

His solo performances include appearances with orchestras such as Turku Philharmonic, Arctic Philharmonic, Norrköping Symphony, Norddeutschen Philharmonie Rostock, Kiev Philharmonic, St. Petersburg Camerata, Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, NHK Symphony, Tokyo Symphony, Osaka Philharmonic, Hyogo PAC Orchestra, Tucson Symphony, Sinfónica Nacional de México, Sinfónica Nacional de Puerto Rico, Filarmónica de Málaga, Sinfónica de Baleares, Real Filharmonía de Galicia, Sinfónica de Bilbao, Sinfónica de Tenerife or Simón Bolívar Orchestra of Venezuela. In recital, he has performed in venues such as the New York Carnegie Hall, the Paris Salle Pleyel and the Tokyo Opera City.

Pacho Flores Tenerife Sentado_Mano

A founding member of the Venezuelan Simón Bolívar Brass Quintet, he has toured with the quintet extensively in Europe, South America, the United States, and Japan. An experienced orchestral musician, Mr. Flores has played first trumpet in the Simón Bolívar Orchestra of Venezuela, the Saito Kinen Orchestra, and the Miami Symphony, under the direction of Claudio Abbado, Sir Simon Rattle, Seiji Ozawa, Giusseppe Sinopoli, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, and Gustavo Dudamel, among others. A founding director of the Latin American Trumpet Academy in Caracas, he mentors a promising generation of budding musicians and is a frequent guest at conservatories in Finland, Spain, France, Japan, and Latin America, as permanent jury member in prestigious international competitions.

Pacho Flores is an avid champion of new music and is bringing about important innovations to trumpet performance and fabrication. His repertoire includes commissions and premieres of works by composers such as Roger Boutry, Efraín Oscher, Giancarlo Castro, Santiago Báez, Juan Carlos Nuñez, Sergio Bernal, Arturo Márquez, Roberto Sierra or Paquito D’Rivera. His first album La trompeta Venezolana  has been released by the label GUATACA Producciones. A Stomvi artist, he performs with instruments tailored specially for him by this prestigious firm and actively participates in the development and innovation of their instruments. Francisco Pacho Flores is a Deutsche Grammophon exclusive artist with already two recordings, Cantar, with Konzerthaus Orchester Berlin and Christian Vásquez; and Entropía, Gold Medal of the Global Music Awards. Next will be with Arctic Philharmonic and Christian Lindberg.

 

 

Pacho Flores, concert in Bremen

Pacho Flores, concert in Bremen

After his concert at Wartburg Castle Festival on past September the 23rd, Pacho Flores will play at Kulturkirche St. Stephani, Bremen, on September the 28th. Pacho will be on of the soloists of Barroqueanas Venezolanas, a project of composer Efraín Oscher, who, inspired in Venezuelan folklore, conceived a series of four concerts with the structure of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerts, second of which is for solo trumpet. This event will be the absolute premiere of the complete cycle and will be released in a recording. 

cartel-pacho_flores-barroqueanas_efrain_oscher_bremen

Shortly after, on October the 6th, Pacho will return to Orquesta Sinfónica de Tenerife to play in the orchestra’s opening concert, under the baton of Perry So, the Concert for Corno da Caccia, by J. B. G. Neruda, and Concierto Mestizo, by Efraín Oscher. Other highlights of the season includes a tour of six concerts with the Israel NK Orchestra under the baton of its Chief Conductor Christian Lindberg or the New Year Concert with the Salzburg Philharmonie and Elisabeth Fuchs.

 

Important debuts will take place along the 2018 year: First, with the Real Filharmonia de Galicia -one of the most impressive orchestras in Spain- under the baton of Manuel Hernández-Silva, Pacho will premiere his own composition Cantos y revueltas, together with Neruda’s Concerto for Corno da Caccia and a version of Villalobos’ Bachiana Brasileira nº 5. Immediately after, Pacho will debut with the Orquesta Sinfónica de Bilbao, under Alondra de la Parra, and such extremely demanding program like Christian Lindberg’s Akban Bunka, and Efraín Oscher’s Concierto Mestizo. Still in February, next debut will be with the Ulster Orchestra and Rafael Payare, also with an absolute premiere, Giancarlo Castro’s Trumpet concerto, together with Neruda again, and Piazzolla’s Invierno Porteño.

Then, after two new debuts, with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Laval, in Montreal; and the Orchestre de Cannes, he will travel to the Stormen Konsertus in Norway to record his third release for Deutsche Grammophon, with Christian Lindberg and the Arctic Philharmonic. The 18/19 season will bring important news regarding a huge project of shared commissions that involves composers as Arturo Márquez, Roberto Sierra and Paquito D’Rivera. More information soon.

 

 

 

Importante Premio para Pacho Flores y Jesús González

Importante Premio para Pacho Flores y Jesús González

Pacho Flores y Jesús ‘Pingüino’ González han sido galardonados con la Medalla de Oro de los Global Music Awards en la categoría de Dúo Instrumental Clásico por su proyecto ENTROPÍA, plasmado en disco en el sello Deutsche Grammophon. El anuncio se produjo durante el concierto que Paquito D’Rivera y su Quinteto ofrecieron en el Palau de la Música de Valencia, con la Orquesta de Valencia y dirección de Vicent Alberola, y en el que invitó a Pacho Flores al escenario para interpretar juntos La Fleur de Cayenne, un tema que Paquito D’Rivera compuso y dedicó a Pacho a Flores.

Entropía es un viaje por algunos de los clásicos inmortales de la música popular latinoamericana como El día que me quieras y Por una cabeza, popularizadas por Carlos Gardel; La Comparsa, de Ernesto Lecuona; Bordel 1900 y Café 1930, de Piazzolla; o un popurrí de diversos temas de bossanova, com Aguas de Março de Tom Jobim, además de un tema original de cada uno; Café Madridde Jesús; y la sambinha Labios Vermelhos, de Pacho; interpretados con cornetas y fiscorno (Pacho Flores), y guitarra y cuatro venezolano (Jesús ‘Pingüino’ González). El disco, tercero de Pacho y segundo como artista exclusivo de Deutsche Grammophon, salió a la venta el pasado mes de abril y se presentó en una abarrotada Quinta de Mahler, presentado por María del Ser Guillén.

Pacho Flores y Pingüino estarán girando ENTROPÍA por diversos países, incluida España, a lo largo de la temporada 17/18, y en las siguientes temporadas 18/19 y 19/20 Pacho Flores estrenará en  EEUU, Europa y Japón tres nuevos conciertos de trompeta dedicados a él por destacados compositores que en breve anunciaremos en esta misma plataforma. Mientras tanto, prepara su tercer disco para Deutsche Grammophon junto a la Arctic Philharmonic y dirección de Christian Lindberg.

 

 

 

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