Music Box, on 14th and 20th December: Piano Player Seong Jin Cho, Winner of the International Chopin Piano Competition
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This album which was most talked about appeared at Deutsche Grammophon Music Label on 6th November 2015, shortly after the ending of the International Chopin Piano Competition held in Warsaw. The spotlight was on Seong Jin Cho, the piano player winner of this competition, one of the hardest competitions for piano players and also one of the most coveted, as it's held once every five years.
A difficult competition
Amongst the former winners of the International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw one can find important names: Maurizio Pollini, Martha Argerich, Krystian Zimerman, Yundi and Rafa³ Blechacz - in 1990 and 1995, the First Prize was not given, an event which underlines once again the high level of the jury's demands. And in 2015, on 20th October, the First Prize winner of 30.000 € and the winner of a 3.000 € prize for the best performance of a polonaise was the 21 year old South Korean piano player, Seong Jin Cho, a student of Michel Béroff at the Paris Conservatoire.
He is a young exceptional piano player, as one can see from the recordings on this CD which encompasses his performance in the three stages of the recital held between the 3rd and 14th October 2015. In the first stage, Seong Jin Cho performed amongst other works the Nocturne Op. 48, No. 1 in C minor, whereas in the second stage, he performed Polonaise Op. 53 in A-flat major by Frederic Chopin.
The performer's profile
Seong Jin Cho firstly studied the piano in Seoul, Republic of Korea, and presently studies under Michel Béroff at the Paris Conservatoire. In 2008, he won the International Fryderyk Chopin Competition for Young Pianists, in 2009, he won First Prize in the piano competition in Hamamatsu, Japan, in 2011, Third Prize in the Pyotr Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow and in 2014, Third Prize in the Arthur Rubinstein Competition in Tel Aviv. He was supported by his compatriot, conductor Myung Whun Chung, but also by conductor Valery Gergiev, both maestros of the baton with whom he has performed with alongside esteemed orchestras from Europe and the United States of America. Of course, the fact that he has won the 2015 International Chopin Competition in Warsaw will open many paths for international affirmation, the first path of the sort is exactly this CD. Actually, Deutsche Grammophon and the Fryderyk Chopin Institute in Warsaw, the organizer of the competition had announced that they have signed a long-term contract with the winners, Deutsche Grammophon having the right to record CDs with the winners. And behold, at only three weeks from the ending of the 2015 edition, Seong Jin Cho's album has been released at an international level, a CD on which one can find the ravashing performance of the Piano Sonata No. 2, Op. 35 in B-flat minor by Chopin, the one which was sung in the second stage of the competition.
I believe there are a lot of data which recommend Seong Jin Cho as an exceptional piano player. Above the remarkable piano techniques, which nowadays are acquired by everyone, he has a much equilibrated artistic vision. To perform Chopin's works is difficult anyway because it is hard to maintain oneself on that very fine line between the dynamic and agogic intemperance and a soulless performance. But Seong Jin Cho has succeeded in maintaining himself on this fine line throughout the entire competition. He neither feels the need to prove how much he can sing, as others do, for example while performing the famous Polonaise Op. 53, nor proving how romantic he can be; I allude to his sombre version of the Nocturne Op. 48, No. 1. I felt him being modest in front of the overwhelming music of Frederic Chopin, and becoming a servant to his music and shaping a world of colours and shadows, as Chopin's music truly is. And as the twenty-four Preludes Op. 28 were performed in the third stage of the International Chopin Competition in Warsaw.
Seong Jin Cho's CD can be listened to for the first time in Romania on Monday, 14th December, 19.00, and in re-run on Sunday, 20th December, 13.05.
Translated by Irina Mihai
MTTLC, The University of Bucharest