The Rising Star of Chloe Jiyeong Mun

The rising star of Chloe Jiyeong Mun
Chloe Jiyeong Mun takes London by storm
With no one to share my thoughts with on the N.9  at 1 am I decided to write them down in the wake of
the complete euphoria after such a wonderful evening of music,humility and friendship.
Not a lot of takers on the night bus…….none actually!!!
“Unbelievably refined playing both tender.and passionate,intelligent but free.
Playing of such exquisite beauty that has rarely been heard in this hall since it changed its name………

C A congratulating Chloe after the concert (courtesy of G.Cox)
The serenity of op 110 was matched with the sublime simplicity of Schumann Humoresque.
Can Ravels moths ever have been so beguiling,birds more forlorn or bells so atmospheric?
Triana had us dancing in the aisles with sounds so sumptuous we could almost feel the impassioned spanish warmth envelope us.

Elena Vorotko ,co artistic director and trustee of KCT visibly moved by Chloe’s extraordinarily beautiful playing
Has the Autumn song of October ever been so full of nostalgia as in her hands today or Debussy`s rays of moonlight so full of sweet magic
Nothing like this has been heard in London for far too long.

After concert celebrations with members of the KCT and here with the founders Noretta Conci Leech and John Leech
It is thanks to John and Noretta Leech and their Keyboard Trust that we were able to hear for the first time in London this remarkable young musician, teenage winner of Geneva and Busoni Competitions as only Martha Argerich was before her!
Welcome to London the first of many more visits I am sure.”
It was with the opening of op 110 that we knew immediately there was something very special in store.
Like his fourth piano concerto it is so difficult with the very first notes of a concert to find the correct balance and a simplicity pregnant with significance and meaning.

Beethoven’s autograph score that sits on the wall in the Ghione Theatre donated by Guido Agosti on his mermorable performance of op 110 and 111 in 1983.It is the only recording of this student of Busoni that exists.We all used to flock to his studio in Siena for enlightenment and inspiration,
I remember Sidney Harrison telling me that judging the young Glenn Gould in Canada long before his celebrity he was told that he had spent hours only trying to balance the first chord.
”Who is that terrible student playing”exclaimed a friend on the other end of the line to my teacher Gordon Green in Liverpool.”Sviatloslav Richter” he replied.He had spent hours perfecting just one passage in Bartok’s 2nd that he was playing that evening with the Philharmonic.
It is the super sensibility of a selected few that can turn an old friend into a magical new experience.
Murray Perahia can do that with an intelligence that has us reaching for our scores each time we hear him play.
Chloe Jiyeong Mun is one of that select group as she demonstrated from the very first chord of op 110.
Perfectly balanced with the trill leading into the melodic line so naturally.
It created an atmosphere and bond with the audience that was to last until the final passionate explosion.

One of the greatest interpreters of our time who would share his knowledge of a lifetime studying masterworks with the musical world that flocked to his studio every summer in Siena and have never forgotten what they heard
We knew that we could trust her!
The sublime melody played as Beethoven indicates ‘cantabile molto espressivo’ but always with the left hand like a rock on which this celestial melody is allowed to float.The passionate outburst after the perfectly judged left hand trills – just reverberations leading to the final E flat- where the passion and total involvement were on a Serkin frenzied scale.
The swirling left hand in the development was superbly controlled.
Beethoven’s very precise crescendi and diminuendi were an integral part of her interpretation where the composers intentions had been absorbed so naturally.
The modulation in the recapitulation was breathtakingly magic as it must have seemed when the notes were still fresh on the page.
The Allegro molto was played not as the usual march but like a great song that the whole of this sonata really is.
A Hymn to life where technical difficulties just did not concern Jiyeong as she threw herself into the fray with such rhythmic impetus and with such a profound understanding that belied her 23 years.
The final arpeggiando left hand notes came as a great relief after the great sforzando disjointed chords.

The total concentration even in rehearsal listening so attently to every nuance
It led into the most magical of all Beethovens creations in his 32 sonatas.
The ‘Adagio ma non troppo’ with her careful use of the pedal that Beethoven indicates.
Hardly touching the keys to create the effect that the composer intended in the recitativo.We were unaware of the repeated notes, the so called bebung, which were simply made to vibrate before the Arioso dolente where Beethovens phrasing became her own.
This is the true meaning of interpreter where the composers wishes are translated into sounds in a totally convincing way.
The Fugue was at once innocent and menacing building to a climax that burst like a great bubble to reveal the Arioso as Beethoven says’ perdendo le forze,dolente.’
After the tempest- calm.
And what calm!
Revealing the absolute desolation in a song of almost unbearable beauty.
Her enormous concentration was ours as we were led into this magic final world that only Beethoven could hear but was still able to share with posterity .

Controlling a note with the piano technician before the concert
The gradual final build up at the end of this Arioso was overwelming, helped as it was by Beethoven’s own pedal which allowed the chords to disintegrate seemingly naturally.It led to the innocent purity of the return of the fugue this time inverted (upside down).
The gradual build up in note values ( written to be slower but with note values twice as fast) arriving triumphantly to the original tempo and Beethoven’s exhilarating shout from the rafters where his sforzandi were merely crescendi (not the usual blaring trumpets) so perfectly judged by Jiyeong.
One wonders why other pianists had not fully understood Beethovens’ intentions as he sang his heart out like the great Neapolitan tenors of the past.
The final cascade of notes came as such a relief from the tension that she had created and the world she had discovered and so magnificently revealed to us.
Serkin and Perahia are the only other pianist I have heard in concert who have reached the pinnacle of this great monument as she had done tonight.

A packed Wigmore Hall for the London debut of Jiyeong Mun
It was Horowitz who brought the Schumann Humoreske back into the concert hall as he did the Rachmaninov Second Sonata and many other neglected works too.
It needs a great musician who can weave their way through Schumann’s maze of different moods.
From the subtle introspective Eusebius to the outlandish jinks of Florestan.
It also needs such subtle changes of colour.
From the luminosity of sound of the introspective opening where Jiyeong’s subtle artisty knew just where to allowed the bass to reply to the treble in true liederistic fashion.

Jiyeong greeting her public in the green room after the concert
To the passionate outpourings of great technical brilliance.
The subtle legato of her octave playing was quite extraordinary as she built up the crescendo and diminuendo within the span of one episode like a camera zooming in and then retreating,
The most remarkable thing about the playing tonight was that however technically difficult there was always the subtle artistry of the voice in mind and never the guns and canons that I have so often experienced in this very complex work.
Her great sense of character where every note had a meaning was often allied to a passionate temperament that left one at times almost breathless.
Wonderful washes of colour where sounds wafted out of the pure air and were incorporated into a massive rhythmic drive.
Even great artists such as Sokolov or Richter have not been entirely innocent here.
It reminded me of the young Janina Fialkowska who had brought tears to Rubinsteins’ eyes at his first competition in Tel Aviv.
He had recognised a great poet and stylist who could make the piano sing as he had done for a lifetime.

In rehearsal a few hours before the concert
Hats off to this poet of the piano with her total concentration, listening so carefully to every sound with eyes that seem glued to the keys in a way I have rarely experienced in the concert hall.
Mention should be made in the Ravel ‘Miroirs’ where true feats of piano playing passed almost unnoticed……… except to the initiated.
Her superhuman control of sound was a revelation.
The sounds in ‘La vallèe des cloches’ were I expect, exactly as Ravel had imagined with his ‘tres doux et sans accentuation’ in pianissimo, ending pianississimo.With very precise indications of pianissimo ,mezzo piano and mezzo forte all so clearly incorporated in her realisation of Ravels’ vision of bells in the distance coming closer and then disappearing to nothing.
The lugubrious central section so beautifully sung in the middle register’largement chanté’ .Could it have ever sounded so sleepy and atmospheric as today?
The repeated notes and glissandi in thirds in Alborada were quite astonishing in the way they were thrown off as pure washes of sound. The spiky dance rhythm was played with velvet gloves and a real feeling of a frenzied dance.
It brought a spontaneous ovation from a public entranced and astonished even though there was still the ‘Vallée’ to come.
The supreme calm after the storm again.
Even more beguiling in this magic world that Ravel creates fifty years on from Beethoven.
One could write a book about what we heard tonight but I think it is enough to say that nearly all those present will not forget the magic and beauty that was created by this remarkable young lady.
It is surely no coincidence that she and Martha Argerich had both won Geneva and Busoni competitions as teenagers.
Both can create such magic as only great masters can with their total dedication to their art.
I had toured USA with her last year and am pleased to include s record of her reception and success on that memorable occasion.
After such a memorable occasion it was only fitting to have a suitable celebration with the friends of the Keyboard Trust and our founders Noretta and John Leech.

John greeting Jiyeong and her mother
John in his 95th year made a moving speech of warmth and appreciation for the debut of Chloe Jiyeong Mun as winner of the Career Development Prize offered to the most talented pianist at the Busoni International Piano Competition in Bolzano.
A competition that Noretta Conci-Leech has attended since the very first one in 1949 where Alfred Brendel took fourth prize! (He is an honourd Trustee of the KCT)
The Prizewinners Series held every year at the Wigmore Hll for the past decade was the idea of KCT founder member and trustee Dr Moritz von Bredow.
He has generously sponsored the concerts that from the very first with Lilija Zilberstein  have included since: Alexander Romanovsky,Michail Lifits,Jayson Gilham,Vitaly Pisarenko,Sasha Grynyuk,Alexander Ullman,Emanuel Rimoldi,Mark Viner .

Jiyeong with Mrs Jocelyne Fox in the green room

The many friends of the KCT including co artistic director Leslie Howard in the foreground

Affectionate ‘thank you’ to KCT founder father John Leech

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