Jarvi brings top French orchestra
Paik Kun-woo returns with Schumann, Ravel
By Do Je-hae
Paris-based piano virtuoso Paik Kun-woo will perform a couple of concertos by Schumann and Ravel on Dec. 2 and 3 accompanied by Estonian-American maestro Paavo Jarvi.
The two concerts at Seoul Arts Center will present masterpieces rarely performed in Korea, including “La Symphonie Fantastique” by Berlioz and “Offrandes Oubliees” by French composer Messiaen. Jarvi will conduct the Paris Orchestra, where he has served as musical director since 2010.
This is a unique opportunity to hear the 65-year-old pianist renewing his focus on Romantic pieces like the Schumann piano concerto, after devoting the last few years to Beethoven’s huge repertoire of piano works.
Paik, who has released the complete set of Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas with Decca, combines moving lyricism and insightful interpretations with everything he plays, whether it be a short prelude by Frederic Chopin or a grandiose concertos of Sergei Rachmaninoff.
The Financial Times has called him “the rare kind of virtuoso with whom the poetic idea comes first.”
“Without a doubt Kun-Woo Paik’s sublime and poetic interpretation will set an irrefutable standard next to Schnabel, Brendel, Arrau and all the other illustrious names illuminating the grand repertoire of Beethoven,” Richard Holding of ResMusica.com wrote about his Beethoven CD.
Paik is also known for his versatility. He is equally at home playing Baroque masters like Bach as he is with playing Messiaen, one of the most important 20th-century composers from France.
One of the early pioneers among Korean pianists, Paik was trained at the Juilliard School in New York and now makes his home in Paris.
At the age of 15, he moved to New York to study with legendary teacher Rosina Lhevinne at Julliard and with Ilona Kabos in London. His career was launched after winning the prestigious Naumburg and Busoni International Piano Competitions.
The highlight of the performance is the Berlioz piece, which has been at the center of the Paris Orchestra’s tradition since it began in 1967.
The orchestra’s most popular recording is “La Symphonie Fantastique” under the baton of its founding conductor Charles Munch (1891-1968).
The masterpiece is a program symphony by the French master composer Hector Berlioz in 1830 and considered one of the representative pieces of the early Romantic period. The first performance took place at the Paris Conservatoire in December 1830.
The orchestra has been mainly associated with French music, particularly Boulez, Messiaen and Lutoslawski.
Jarvi is the leader of several outstanding European orchestras. He also heads the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra and Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie, Bremen. In May 2011, he was named musical director laureate of the Cincinnati Symphony, which he has guided for the last 10 years to achieve its current fame.