Chloe Jiyeong Mun at Steinway Hall New York Debut of her KCT tour at the new Steinway Hall in New York.
After Bach 6th Partita BWV 830 and Schumann Sonata op 11 played by a master musician sparks started to fly in a superb account of Schumann`s Widmung played with the delicacy and passion that is of the young and beautiful.
What a coincidence .I like to think that it was on my request that Martha Argerich performed the same magical piece as an encore for the first time in public at the RFH last year.
An unexpected, scintillating jazz study op.40 n.6 “Pastorale” by N.Kapustin reminded me of the impish double personality of Friedrich Gulda whose only student was in fact Martha Argerich……
Chloe too,like Martha, was the only other beautiful young lady to win both Geneva and Busoni whilst still in their teens………..
Lovely birthday surprise from our adorable hostess Caroline von Reitzenstein….the daughter of John Leech founder with his wife Noretta Conci-Leech of the Keyboard Trust for which we are all truly grateful.
Hats off and happy birthday to me ….even if Dan Danielli got most of the cake!
Chloe Jiyeong Mun in Delaware was even better and received a standing ovation for her magnificent Bach and Schumann.
Wonderful hospitality as always at Cokesbury Village from our hosts Nan and Parry Norling.
Mark Viner and Andre Gallo,our previous artists here,are already posting me their warmest best wishes to our hosts and friends.
An audience attentive to every nuance in a performance where every note spoke so eloquently.
Amazing concentration from pianist and audience.
A very individual Bach with almost improvisatory freedom.
It brought Bach’s monumental score to life in a refreshingly personal performance as is rarely the case in these days of ridgid adherance to the score without any real understanding of the times in which it was written or as was more often the case improvised.
In fact the improvisatory nature of the toccata was only interrupted by the rock solid voicing of the fugato alla Tureck with a clarity and vehemance that is so much part of the assertive character of this masterpiece.
The crowning work of the set of 6 Partitas and the last in the Clavier Ubung which was the first keyboard music to be published by Bach in his lifetime.
The pure charm and lilt that she brought to the Tempo di gavotta was balanced by the sheer scintillating almost shimmering virtuosity of the Corrente .
The Gigue was played with an aristocratic inevitability and with a rhythmic pulse that never wavered for a second.
It brought this score to life as rarely it is heard.
It was in fact a freedom that came from a a real understanding of the style and the life and times for which the music was written.
The Schumann Sonata op 11 dedicated to the 15 year old Clara from a 25 year old Schumann was written by Florestan and Eusebius according to Schumann.
It is the most unconventional and the most intriguing of Schumann’s three sonatas due to its unusual structure.
It is the work that sealed Chloe Jiyeong Mun’s victory at the Busoni Competition in 2015.
Senza passione ma espressivo was what Schumann had indicated in the opening of the beautiful aria taken from his early lied “An Anna.”
Elsewhere this was a performance of great passion and energy from an undemonstrative young lady.
The feeling and passion was concealed in her kaleidoscopic sense of colour and a sense of phrasing that one is used to hearing only from a Schwarzkopf.
From the beautiful opening- un poco adagio- that leads into the questioning- Allegro vivace- with always the great conflict between the dreamy poet Eusebius and the rumbustuous almost militaristic Floristan.
The impish dotted rhythm held right until the last note when the movement disappears into the distance preparing the stage for one of Schumann’s most beautiful lied.
Played so simply as the composer asks but with such sumptuous sounds and magical sense of balance .The melodic line as if on the cello ,accompanied by the most delicate of strings, was simply sublime.
The continual changing character in the Scherzo and Intermezzo was superbly controlled and Schumann’s sometimes problematic use of dotted rhythms given a shape and sense of unity that is rare indeed.
The Finale -Allegro un poco maestoso- was just that.The chords shaped with a wonderful sense of colour that allowed the music to speak so naturally without resorting to the usual virtuosistic bombastics that this world can encourage in less poetic hands.
And so to Virginia the Castleton Festival chez Maazel and Philadelphia with lovely Beth- Elizabeth Glendinning and that birthday again……………
It was wonderful to be back on the beautiful estate of Lorin Maazel.
Even the Alpaca Fanny seemed pleased to see us back again.
It was nice to meet at last Dietlinde Turban Maazel Wood and to meet her new husband Tony Wood.
After the passing a few years ago of her beloved Lorin it was wonderful to see her looking so radiant and happy again.
What wonderful fotos they were so happy to share of their wedding last July.
Mariam Batsashvili who had played during the season at Castleton was the gift of the KCT to their wedding celebrations asked for by Dietlinde who had been particularly entranced by her earlier performances.
And what a team.
Tony a” lad” from the North – Leeds to be precise – with interests in Australia and America was the perfect host with Dietlinde providing the most wonderful meals in no time at all and discussing her activity in the theatre world.
A wonderful warm and welcoming family atmosphere with a dream team on hand to help with this artistic oasis in the middle of the beautiful Virginian countryside in Castleton.
A new programme for Chloe Jiyeong Mun which included the Bach 6th Partita but was prefaced by the little sonata in C major by Galuppi that Michelangeli was so fond of playing.
The second half was dedicated to her beloved Schumann.(her first CD for Deutsche Grammophon is of Schumann Fantasie op 17 and Sonata n.1 op 11 and was received to great critical acclaim).
In Castleton the programme included Blumenstuck op 19 and in place of the Sonata op 11 the Symphonic Studies op 13 with the inclusion of the 5 posthumous studies magically inserted into the whole alla Alfred Cortot.
A sunday afternoon of sheer magic in the theatre that the Maazels had created on their estate in Virginia
When the Maazels purchased the original section of Castleton Farms in 1988, the 1857 Manor House stood across from a massive chicken coop that once housed 15,000 chickens. As soon as it became clear that this would be an ideal location for music-making, they set about rebuilding the structure to house a sort of “Globe Theatre” in the existing footprint. Completed in 1997, the first concert there was held on June 21, featuring the extremely impressive trio of Maestro Maazel, Yefim Bronfman, and Mstislav Rostropovich. The 138-seat air-conditioned proscenium theatre has an orchestra pit that can accommodate 20 musicians and seating on the orchestra level and in the balcony. This intimate venue is the home of Castleton in Performance, the year-round branch of the Castleton Festival, and has also played host to numerous Festival productions, including chamber music, chamber operas, theatre, and recitals.
It was the Sonata n.5 in C by Baldassare Galuppi that opened this afternoon recital on a fine Bosendorfer piano.
A contemporary of Bach and known as Il Buranello as he was born in Burano in Venice.
He wrote over a hundred operas and many sonatas for keyboard.
He was himself a fine harpsichordist and worked as such at the Teatro della Pergola in Florence between 1726 and 1728.
He was invited to supervise Italian opera at the Kings Theatre in London and later invited as composer and conductor to the court of Catherine the Great in St Petersburg.
Time spent in Vienna too but it was with Goldoni librettist that he became famous for the new dramma giocoso style.
The opening Andante was played with a beautifully liquid cantabile with a perfect sense of balance between the hands that allowed the melodic line to sing with such purity like jewels gleaming in the sun.The ornaments too were beautifully integrated into the melodic line.
The Allegro and Vivace that followed in this miniature masterpiece were played with great rythmic energy and forward propulsion with a clockwork precision like a finely tuned watch.
Just as beautiful as Scarlatti or Clementi but strangely neglected and many still only in manuscript.
A treasure trove waiting to be disovered by artists such as Chloe Jiyeong Mun.
The Bach I have spoken about above and it revealed even more of its secrets in Chloe’s hands on hearing it for the third time on this short tour.
Schumann’s beautiful but rarely heard Blumenstuck op 19 sang so beautifully in her hands and made one wonder why it is not heard as often as it’s twin fellow the Arabesque op 18.
It has almost the same form and in Chloe’s hands tonight was the ideal companion for the mighty Symphonic Studies op 13 that followed.
It was a performance of the complete Symphonic studies including the 5 posthumous ones that she integrated into the whole as Alfred Cortot used to do.
Some pianists leave them out and select the 4th or 5th as encores .Others play them all together as an interuption to the published op 13 set.
Cortot’s way of integrating them and playing only a few of the repeats in the original set made one realise what an extraordinarily homogenious work this can be in the right hands.
The opening theme was played in such a simple way with a very subtle sense of colour and shape.
The first variation with the underlying Schumannesque dotted rhythms came to a climax that lead the way so beautifully for the swirling arpeggios of the first of the posthumous variatons.
The second variation played with a very subtle lack of syncronisation between the hands that allowed the melody to sing in such an unforced way as the pianists of the past – Cherkassky and Cortot in particular- would have done.
A true conjuring trick that can persuade us in the hands of a true poet that this intrument of hammers and strings can sing as well as any lieder singer.
The 3rd variation where the melodic line is in the middle register of the piano accompanied by a fleeting right hand that can sound in the right hands as tonight like a butterfly drifting over the most richly perfumed flowers.
Technically ,of course it was a tour de force of subtle pianism with the melodic trill like ornament played with such artistic precision one was not aware of the transcendental difficulty involved.
These are ,after all studies ,but one is reminded of the phrase that Schumann himself used to describe the polonaises of Chopin- canons covered in flowers.
The 4th and 5th variations were played with great rhythmic impetus very clean and clearly articulated.
Leading to the magical cantabile of the second of the posth studies.
Again a wonderful liquid sound as in the Galuppi with a very subtle use of the sustaining pedal.
The passionate outbust afterwards of the 6th variation created an even greater contrast than usual in the style ,of course ,of Schumann’s dual personalities of Floristan and Eusebius.
Technically there was a wonderful sense of style and a forward movement of great passionate involvement.And after an equally rumbustuous 7th variation the insertion of the 3rd posth study in all its simple innocence sounded so perfect.
The question and answer between the hands leading to an agitato middle section where the melody appears seemingly from a distance over a mist of sound.
This opens the way for the most magical of the posth studies which was here played with that crystalline clear cantabile that Chloe had shown us so wonderfully in the Andante of the Galuppi sonata.
The majestic 8th variation that Agosti likened to the great structure of a Gothic cathedral was played with the same vehemence that she had brought to the Gigue in the Bach Partita.
Throwing off the scherzo like 9th with an ease that belied the actual transcendental technical difficulty involved.
Ending in a puff of smoke which opened the path so rightly for the last of the posth variations.
The great forward movement of the 10th variation lead to the final almost chopinesque variation of a Bellinian bel canto duet over a shimmering almost inaudible left hand accompaniment.
The finale was played with great passion and a volume of sound that she had held at bay until unleashing it with the same overwhelming effect of the great pianist of the past. The re insertion of the small variants from the first edition allowed Schumann’s relentless dotted rhythms much more contrast too.
This was a real musician speaking with a very simple but individual voice.
A standing ovation brought forth two encores.
Another magical Schumann in Liszt’s arrangement of his song Widmung and at last letting her hair down with her scintillating performance of Kapustin’s Jazz study Pastorale op 40 n.6.
It was much appreciated by the Jazz pianist Burnett Thompson who had come especially to hear her before his own concert tour in china in a few days time.
A beautiful celebration party appeared seemingly out of nowhere from our hosts’ hands It was of course no real surprise in this magic place where everything has been created with such loving human warmth
And so on to Cathedral Village in Philadelphia for the final two concerts in this all too short tour.
It is always a joy to play for Elizabeth Glendinning,Beth as she likes affectionately to be called.
A season she has been running for the past 15 years and has included 10 pianists from the KCT stable .
From the very first Vitaly Pisarenko and have includedAlexander Ullman,Vanessa Benelli Mosell,Emanuel Rimoldi,Evgeny Genchev, André Gallo,Mark Viner,Bollai Cao,Mariam Batsashvili and now Chloe Jiyeong Mun.
Quite a line up with some of the very best from the KCT.
They are all sending greetings to Beth and her friends for the unforgettable warmth they have received from this very discerning audience.
Beth was the PR assistant for years for Eugene Ormandy the leggendary conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra.The Ormandy sound was the unrivaled envy of most and not easy to create and sustain for so many years following as he did in the footsteps of Leopold Stokowski .
After Ormandy,of course was Riccardo Muti and now Beth tells me the orchestra is in good hands again with the Canadian French conductor Yannick Nezet Seguin whom the musicians and public alike all adore.
She also has great links, of course, with Curtis and one of her oldest friends is Gary Graffman the renowned teacher of both Lang Lang ,Yuja Wang and many more besides He is the purvayor of the lost style of the Golden age of piano playing.
So a great musical pedigree that makes one very proud when she praises so highly and sincerely these young musicians that she so generously gives a platform to.
I have spoken at length about the performances in the previous venues but the spontaneous standing ovation from a capacity audience took even Beth by surprise.
It was rewarded of course by the Jazz Study that was the talking point of the evening.
How could such a simple charming girl play Jazz like that ?
Well you could say the same about her Galuppi,Bach and Schumann too of course!
Beth was anxious to get us to a surprise party afterwards.
Surprise it was indeed.Especially after a spontaneous “Happy Birthday to you” sung by the audience before the concert began.
It was ,of course, conducted by our adorable hostess.
Just one more concert in a private house of a friend of Beth on her wonderful new Steinway D that is just waiting to be christened by the magic hands of our Chloe.
And the final word has to be from Beth:
“ Just in from a post-concert reception. Chloe’s concert here was beyond words sublime. A large audience hardly moved during her playing; they were spellbound. I’ve heard plenty of piano recitals in my day, and this one was perfect in every way. Thank you and the Trust so very much for sending her (and Chris, of course!) our way. Warm regards, Beth=”
What more can one say