Artist: Myung Whun Chung
Release Date: 2014
Quality: High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 24bit/96kHz
The ECM New Series debut of Myung Whun Chung features the widely-celebrated conductor as pianist. Recorded at Venice’s Teatro La Fenice, in July 2013, the album marks the first occasion that Chung has recorded solo. In a performer’s note, he describes the album as a gift for younger listeners, as well as a personal thanks to those who share his love of this music. Chung’s touch and sensitivity for dynamics cast a new light on familiar pieces — by Debussy, Chopin, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Schubert, Schumann and Mozart — as they are experienced in a gently flowing sequence which also serves to highlight affinities between the compositions. Although conducting now fully occupies his professional life, Chung (born 1953 in Seoul) made his debut as pianist with the Seoul Philharmonic at the age of seven. He later studied the piano with Maria Curcio, the last and favourite pupil of Artur Schnabel. In 1974 he was a prize winner in the Tchaikovsky Competition. He then began his career playing piano trios with his sisters, Kyung Wha Chung and Myung Wha Chung.
Better known as a dynamic conductor with a large repertoire of 19th and 20th century orchestral music, Myung Whun Chung is also a noted pianist, though he is seldom heard in this capacity. On his 2013 ECM New Series release, he presents ten greatest hits of the piano, and while they may be surprisingly easy for a musician of Chung’s abilities, their simplicity is deceptive. Such pieces as Debussy’s Clair de lune, Beethoven’s Fr Elise, Tchaikovsky’s Autumn Song, Schumann’s Trumerei, Chopin’s Nocturne in C sharp minor, and Mozart’s Variations on “Ah, vous dirai-je, Maman!” are miniatures that are frequently heard on student recitals, though it’s less common to hear them interpreted by a sensitive and skilled pianist. Chung has selected these pieces because he has strong personal associations with them, dating back to his music lessons in childhood, and the impulse to record them for his grandchildren was a strong inducement to make this album. But beyond the artistry that Chung displays, which will be attractive to many listeners, these chestnuts may not be sufficiently challenging to entice experienced fans of piano music, and may miss the core ECM audience.
- Debussy: Clair de Lune – 5:44
- Chopin: Nocturne in D-flat major, Op.27/2 – 6:06
- Beethoven: Fur Elise – 3:00
- Tchaikovsky: Autumn Song – 4:54
- Schubert: Impromptu in E-flat major, D899/2 – 4:51
- Schumann: Traumerei – 2:44
- Schumann: Arabeske – 7:00
- Schubert: Impromptu in G-flat major, D899/3 – 7:38
- Chopin: Nocturne in C-sharp minor, Op. Posth. – 3:58
- Mozart: 12 Variations on ‘Ah! vous dirai-je, Maman’, K.265 – 9:04