Rising piano superstar Seong-Jin Cho will perform music of Beethoven, Debussy and Chopin on Friday, March 2, at 8 p.m., at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. The solo recital follows Cho’s well-received appearance at the Center last season with the Warsaw Philharmonic.
Cho shot to fame in October 2015 when the South Korea-born pianist won gold at Warsaw’s International Frédéric Chopin Piano Competition. In a review of Cho’s winning performance at the competition, a critic for The Telegraph of London called Cho “unequivocally brilliant.” Other critics hailed the playing on his subsequent CD as “mature, touching and passionate” (The Guardian), and observed that he “overcomes the thorniest technical problems easily” (NYConcertReview.com). Cho’s gold medal generated a series of concert and recital appearances, including a Carnegie Hall debut last year. His has appeared or will appear in concert in Seoul, Tokyo, Amsterdam, Paris, Berlin, London, St. Petersburg, Lucerne, Edinburgh, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.
Born in 1994 in Seoul, Seong-Jin Cho started learning the piano at age 6 and gave his first public recital at age 11. In 2009, he became the youngest-ever winner of Japan’s Hamamatsu International Piano Competition. In 2011, he won third prize at the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow at the age of 17. In 2012, he moved to Paris to study with Michel Béroff at the Paris Conservatoire and he graduated in 2015. He is now based in Berlin.
Cho will open his program with two sonatas by Ludwig van Beethoven: Sonata No. 8 in C minor, Op. 13, the “Pathetique”; and Sonata No. 30 in E major, Op. 109. Beethoven composed the first of these when he was 27. It sold well and helped cement his emerging reputation as an heir to Mozart and Haydn.
Dedicated to his friend and patron, Karl Alois, Prince Lichnowsky, it was given the label “Pathetique” by Beethoven’s publisher in observation of the middle movement’s plaintive character. Sonata No. 30 came at the opposite end of the composer’s career, when he was almost deaf and undergoing stylistic changes that led to his final works. More than half of the sonata consists of a massive set of variations in the last movement.
Book Two of Claude Debussy’s Images and Chopin’s Sonata No. 3 in B Minor, Op. 58, will comprise Cho’s second half of the program.
In 1905 and 1907, Debussy composed two books of three pieces each, called Images. Meant as musical tone-painting, the pieces are sonically evocative of their titles. The three pieces of Book Two are: Cloches à travers les feuilles (Bells Through the Leaves); Et la lune descend sur le temple qui fut (And the moon descends over the temple ruins); and Poissons d’or (Goldfish).
Chopin’s third and final piano sonata is an expansive, four-movement work that encompasses a substantial first movement, a flashing scherzo, a lyrical and meditative Largo and a Herculean finale. The large-view shape of the score transcends the composer’s reputation as a miniaturist in the preludes, mazurkas and other short pieces.
Tickets: $49 (M $41) / $39 / $29
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