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Dunelm Records

Jae-Hyuck Cho (piano)
Ludwig Van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)

Sonata for piano No. 21 ‘Waldstein’ in C, Op.53 (1803-04)
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)

Jeux d’eau (1901)
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-56)

Sonata for piano No.2 in G minor, Op.22 (1833-38)
Franz LISZT (1811-86)

Mephisto Waltz No.1,‘Der Tanz in der Dorfschenke’ S514 (1859-60)
Fryderyk CHOPIN (1810-49)

Fantasie-impromptu in C sharp minor, Op.66 (1835)
Albert Hay MALOTTE (1895-1964)

The Lord’s Prayer (1935) arranged for piano by Jae-Hyuck Cho
Jae-Hyuck Cho (piano)
rec. live, fifth Chetham’s International Summer School and Festival for Pianists, Whiteley Hall, Chetham’s School of Music, Manchester, England, 26 August 2005. DDD
DUNELM RECORDS DRD0259 [66.03]


This recital was recorded at the fifth Chetham’s International Summer School and Festival for Pianists in August 2005 It was given by serial prize-winner, South Korean Jae-Hyuck Cho.

The programme was something of a heavyweight one, with the Waldstein and Schumann’s Second sonata sharing space with the Mephisto Waltz, Chopin’s Fantasie-impromptu in C sharp minor, a glimpse of his Ravel in the shape of Jeux d’eau and a warmly played The Lord’s Prayer by Albert Malotte.

Cho has a warm and an attractive touch; he’s a thoughtful musician whose legato is immediately appealing. Technically adroit he’s nevertheless not watertight as some sticky moments demonstrate. Such considerations as finger slips in the context of a live, presumably unedited, recital are however relatively slight. My concern is rhythmic. He seldom seems to set a decisive rhythmic pulse in the Beethoven and the rhetorical slowings are disruptive to the establishment of a properly animated pulse. The result is episodic phrasing with insufficient tension. This is especially the case in the opening movement but no less so in the Adagio where imperfect rubati contribute to a feeling of lassitude.

For all his care and thoughtfulness I’m not sure if the Schumann Op.22 sonata is quite the work to demonstrate Cho’s best qualities. Similarly the Liszt leaves a rather neutral impression; it’s not sculpted with overmuch character or warmth. His Chopin is self-consciously artful, that push-pull rhythm that so devitalised the Beethoven seemingly endemic to certain aspects of his playing. The finger slips are unimportant here, though the singing tone is not – that in itself would be reason enough to lend an ear to Cho. The pity is that it’s not yet put to the service of sympathetic phrasing, that he feels the need to subject his performances to such mannered playing.

The recording is certainly serviceable enough. There are ambient clicks at high level – an acoustic phenomenon or a mechanical one? – but they can’t be heard at normal volume and won’t disturb. It’s too early to prognosticate about Cho’s future but this imperfect document shows that he needs seriously to ally his fine tonal qualities with a more rigorous and analytical approach to rhythm.

Jonathan Woolf

see also review by Michael Cookson

 



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