Since winning the International Chopin Piano Competition in 2015, South Korean pianist Seong-Jin Cho has been entrancing audiences with his impeccable style, and sheer beauty of his playing.
On August the 27th Seong-Jin Cho released his latest album featuring the music of Chopin. The disc consists of Chopin’s 2nd Piano Concerto and Chopin’s fiendishly difficult four Scherzi for the solo piano.
In 2016 he released his recording of Chopin’s first Piano Concerto with The London Symphony Orchestra, and conductor Gianandrea Noseda. With this latest release he has teamed up with the LSO and Noseda again, to record a performance of Chopin’s 2nd Concerto that is truly special.
“I always hoped that I would complete Chopin’s concerto cycle with the same conductor and Orchestra.” states Cho. “With the Chopin concertos, the Orchestra needs to be really sensitive and delicate because the pianist always takes a lot of time and rubato, and there are so many tempo changes. Noseda and the LSO are so sensitive…they are perfect for catching my ideas about timing, so yeah, they are really great.”
In regards to his interpretation of the 2nd Concerto, innocence is key. “It is very romantic music but I always try to take more of an innocent approach rather than too romantic one because they were written when he was just 20 years old,” states Cho.
Aside from recording together, Seong-Jin Cho and the LSO under Noseda have performed Chopin’s concertos many times together, and this comes across in this recording of the 2nd Concerto. The delicate orchestral entrances that Chopin asks for are clear and together, and the musicians of the LSO provide the perfect layer of soft velvety support for Cho’s gorgeous touch and impeccable phrasing at the piano. While listening to this recording, it is like Cho and the LSO are making spun gold for the ears.
In contrast to the very romantic and passion filled 2nd Piano concerto, the album also consists of the four tremendously difficult Scherzi that Chopin composed. As Cho states, “Scherzo means joke, but for example when you hear the Scherzo No 1, it is like a joke of the devil.”
A testament to Cho’s virtuosity and stamina is that he has performed all four of the Scherzi together in concert. “I like to play all four Scherzi together as a cycle in concerts…they seem to feel very comfortable all in one place,“ says Cho. The familiarity of these pieces comes across on the disc with Cho bringing out all of the technical bravura that the Scherzi demand, while at the same time never forgetting the poetic beauty, dynamics and structure that Chopin demands throughout all of his music.
This is a truly spellbinding recording that combines two sides of Chopin’s character; the absolute passionate beauty and innocence of the 2nd Piano Concerto juxtaposed with the dramatic bravura of some of Chopin's most difficult solo piano music.
This is a must have disc for anyone passionate about music, and in particular the music of Chopin.
Missed Chris Wolf’s conversation with Seong-Jin Cho? Listen to it here: