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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


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South Korean born Jae-Hyuck Cho has appeared at numerous world renowned concert venues including; Carnegie Hall, The Lincoln Center, Seoul Arts Center Concert Hall and The Great Hall of Moscow Conservatory. Cho made his New York debut in 1993 at the Weill Recital Hall, Carnegie Hall as the winner of the Pro Piano New York Recital Series auditions. He had further successes in competitions that included; the Maria Canals International Piano Competition, Sorantin Young Artists Competition, International Tchaikovsky Competition, and the most recently captured New Orleans International Piano Competition in 2004.

Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 21 in C major ‘Waldstein’, Op.53

The ‘Waldstein together with its sister work the ‘Appassionata’ are twin peaks of piano sonata literature from Beethoven’s middle period. Both are mighty dramas in which Herculean conflicts alternate with contemplative moods. Conceived as a work of epic stature the
Waldstein opens tempestuously. The music of the allegro con brio is driven by a demonic force until a resting point arrives with a hymn-like melody.
Cho commences rather tentatively and could have provided more authority especially in the first half of the movement. He is serious and contemplative throughout the adagio molto which is a three-part song that pierces the deepest recesses of the heart. The concluding rondo has been described by biographer J. N. Burk as having a “jubilant radiance ... which gleams forth with such complete enchantment.” Cho plays with a tremendous spirit and momentum in this exciting prestissimo movement.

For the Waldstein I would not wish to be without my favourite version from Alfred Brendel. This was the one he made in the Reitstadel, Neumarkt in 1993 on Philips 475 7182. I am also fond of the interpretation from Maurizio Pollini which I have on the Deutsche Grammophon ‘The Maurizio Pollini Edition’ 12 disc set on DG 471350-2.

Ravel: Jeux deaux (Fountains)

Ravels earliest piano works are dominated by impressionism. It is generally acknowledged that in 1901 Ravel composed the first ever impressionist work for piano with Jeux deaux (Fountains) which literally means ‘Play of Water’. The work brought the composer considerable success and on this release the soloist makes a fine job of evoking Ravels images of the music and sounds of fountains, waterfalls and streams. The extended arpeggios pitted against dreamy harmonies are most convincing performed and overall Cho transforms the keyboard into a palette of warm colours. 

From my collection I love the interpretation from Frenchman Jean-Efflam Bavouzet on his 2003 recording made in Bad Arolsen of the complete Ravel piano works on MDG 604 1190-2. I also admire the accounts from Jean-Yves Thibaudet on Decca 433 515-2; Jean-Philippe Collard on EMI CES5 72376-2 and Angela Hewitt on Hyperion CDA 67341/2.

Schumann: Sonata for piano No.2 in G minor, Op.22

Cast in four grand movements the G minor Sonata is the most popular of Schumann’s three piano sonatas. It was completed in 1833 but Schumann completely rewrote the finale in 1838. The tempestuous opening movement is played with vitality and high commitment. Actually an arrangement of an earlier unpublished song, the slow movement has been described as an “ultimate revelation and Cho maintains highly sensitive playing throughout. In the andantino I detected a couple of slight technical glitches at points 04.19 and 04.21 but they didn’t unduly detract from the performance. The scherzo is briskly performed with considerable buoyancy. The finale begins tempestuously and contains a no less passionate second subject. The movement ends with an electrifying ‘quasi cadenza prestissimo’ which Cho takes in his stride with tornado-like playing. As much as I enjoyed this performance I would not wish to be without the accounts from Murray Perahia on Sony MK 44569 and Marc-André Hamelin on Hyperion CDA67166.

Liszt: Mephisto Waltz No. 1 ‘Der Tanz in der Dorfschenke’
Around 1859 Liszt wrote two orchestral scores inspired by the epic poem ‘Faust’ by the Austro-Hungarian poet Nikolaus Lenau. The second of these works, initially called ‘Dance in the Village Tavern’ was arranged by Liszt for solo piano as the famous ‘Mephisto WaltzNo. 1. It is undoubtedly one of the most evocative of all the musical settings of the Faust legend. Its point of departure, the opening dance, is a pretext for a piece that is full of ambivalence and ambiguity, but also overflows with unexpected and seductive sweetness in its central espressivo amoroso episode. At the end of this section, the whirling and somewhat mechanical waltz rhythm takes over once again and leads into a truly devastating finale. Cho seems especially suited to this Mephisto Waltz No. 1, with playing that is adventurous, robust, passionate and highly virtuosic. Those requiring a varied recital of the familiar and lesser-known Liszt, containing the two Mephisto Waltzes, should obtain the recording from Leif Ove Andsnes on EMI Classics 5 57002-2.

Chopin: Fantaisie-impromptu in C sharp minor, Op.66

The Fantaisie-Impromptu in C sharp minor was published posthumously by Fontana. It was composed by Chopin about 1834 but the title of ‘Fantaisie’ given by Fontana is superfluous. The agitated passagework in the near identical outer sections is contrasted by a singing cantabile middle section that contains what has become one of Chopin’s most revered melodies and one of the most timeless in all music. Cho is not as graceful in the revered melody of the cantabile section as some of the more renowned Chopin interpreters such as Ashkenazy on Decca 444 830-2, Hewitt on Hyperion CDA 67371/2, Pizarro on Linn CKD248, Rubinstein on RCA 09026 63047-2, Perahia on CBS MK39708, Lipatti on EMI 5 66904-2 and Arrau on Philips 4563362.

Malotte: The Lord’s Prayer

Albert Hay Malotte was a song composer of numerous contrasting styles. His adaptation of the ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ was written in 1935 and has achieved considerable popularity. Cho has completed his own transcription for solo piano performed here with considerable verve.

The sound quality from the Dunelm engineers on this live recording is acceptable with some blaring in the forte passages. The booklet notes are rather basic but provide all the necessary information. A really fine live recital from Cho but the competition in the feature scores is extremely fierce.

Michael Cookson


Dunelm Records



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