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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    



Martha Argerich presents: Dong-Hyek Lim
Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849)

Scherzo No. 2 in B flat minor, Opus 31
Nocturne in D flat, Opus 27 No. 2
Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Opus 23
Étude in C, Opus 10 No. 1
Franz SCHUBERT (1796-1828)

Four Impromptus, D.899
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)

La Valse
Dong-Hyek Lim (piano)
Recorded May 2001, Henry Wood Hall, London
EMI CLASSICS CDM 5 67933 2 [62.40]


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It is good to see a major company like EMI giving substantive support to young artists, such as in this series of recitals entitled 'Martha Argerich presents'. On the back cover of the disc she proclaims 'Supporting young artists is an integral and essential part of my work'. The question we are all asking, of course, is what will happen next as far as these talented newcomers are concerned.

There is no question that some significant new talents will appear under auspices such as these. In due course artistic development and a great deal of luck will determine whether a major international career will follow.

So much for generalities, what of the performances? Dong-Hyek Lim was born in Seoul, South Korea, in 1984, but his playing scarcely reveals his inexperience. The Chopin performances are particularly good, with technical command allied to a grasp of structure which does not play itself. He is also sensitive to the subtleties of phrasing in the D flat Nocturne, and the recorded sound in Henry Wood Hall gives his dynamic shadings every chance to make their atmospheric effect.

Perhaps the heroic sweep of the First Ballade might have accumulated more power along the way, and the Étude seems curiously placed without its fellows. But this remains Chopin playing to be reckoned with.

The Schubert Impromptus are scarcely less fine. Again dynamics are nicely judged, and the contrasts among rhythmic pulses and tempi make the sequence seem a whole rather than merely a collection of miniatures. Perhaps with more maturity the phrasing might allow the melodic contours to breathe a little more in their articulation, but even so there is no need for allowances to be made as far as the interpretation is concerned.

Lim's own transcription of Ravel's La Valse completes the programme. On its own terms this is no mean achievement, since the original is among the composer's most powerful and subtle orchestral scores. The playing gives the music a real sweep of momentum, but the effect made too often seems one of showmanship for showmanship's sake. The original version is a masterpiece: the transcription, however interesting, is not. Even so, Lim is a talented pianist of whom we may hear a great deal in the years to come.

Terry Barfoot


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