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The Need for Threat: Yunchan Lim at Steinway Society

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Yunchan Lim | Courtesy of the Van Cliburn Worldwide Piano Competitors

Longtime observers will let you know that not since Radu Lupu in 1966 has the Van Cliburn Worldwide Piano Competitors topped a winner of this magnitude, that his method is out of this world, or that his efficiency of the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor would be the biggest ever.

And they’d be improper on all counts.

Anybody who tuned in to the occasions in Fort Price, Texas, this previous June got here away satisfied of two issues: There is no such thing as a substitute for uncommon expertise, and 18-year-old Yunchan Lim of South Korea is, certainly, the actual deal. However to match the younger, creating pianist to the late Romanian grasp—or any former winner—is a disservice each to Lupu and the artist who’s simply arising. How Lim develops now could be the actual story.

Final Sunday, Sept. 18, Steinway Society – The Bay Space introduced Lim’s West Coast debut on the Montgomery Theater in San José, a preliminary view of what is perhaps in retailer.

Yunchan Lim | Courtesy of the Van Cliburn Worldwide Piano Competitors

The primary three of Brahms’s Ballades, Op. 10, discovered Lim adjusting to the piano, calibrating to the second. Darkish, dense chords had been voiced and weighted superbly together with his almost lifeless palms from him, and tender phrasing was scattered all through the Andante actions. Lim had a way to burn and appeared to depend on a protected, tutorial strategy.

By the fourth ballade, Andante con moto in B Main, nevertheless, the tide had turned, and one glimpsed what many in Texas and around the globe had witnessed. We now have seen pianists with all-encompassing method, however the reward of singing is just not given to all. Wealthy, interwoven melodic strains got here into bloom, stuffed with shade, and with such fragile grace and lyricism, it was breathtaking.

Like a sprinter who discovered his stride, Lim dashed into Felix Mendelssohn’s Fantasie in F-sharp Minor, Op. 28 (“Scottish Sonata”), an underperformed virtuoso work, and revealed his expressive powers within the opening Con moto agitato, showcasing an acute consciousness of kind and construction. Audiences had been handled to a mesmerizing Presto motion, with fleet fingers repeatedly operating up and down the keyboard with out lacking a beat.

However none of this really mattered as a result of what was to return merely blew all the things else out of the water.

Stephen Hough, a jury member on the Cliburn, wrote to us that Lim reached “a transcendental peak” within the Transcendental Etudes of Franz Liszt. And for a second, simply after the Allegro maestoso ed animato marking in Legends No. 2St. François de Paule seller on the flots” (St. Francis of Paola strolling on the waves), Lim transported the viewers. As if time, the event, and the notes themselves had been of little import, our minds might see and scent the sand, the small, curling ocean waves by our toes. It was edge-of-your-seat enjoying, the type that defies description. However there was extra to eat.

You’ll by no means mistake Lim’s artistry for Vladimir Horowitz’s sorcery, however there was an unmistakable high quality of violence to his remedy of After a lecture du Dante: Fantasy Quasi Sonata (After a studying of Dante: Fantasia quasi Sonata) that was irresistibly enticing. Along with his physique de el angled barely askew from the viewers, Lim went for broke and unleashed a demon on the Presto agitato assai, introducing sudden, voluminous, Horowitzian bass notes.

Yunchan Lim | Courtesy of the Van Cliburn Worldwide Piano Competitors

There was by no means time to determine whether or not his cascading octaves had been sooner, if his leaps had the correct high quality of tone, or if his arpeggios had been extra ferocious than others. The electrical energy of the second was all-encompassing. One was merely misplaced in communion with the satan.

After an encore of Alexander Siloti’s transcription of Bach’s Flute Sonata in E-flat Main, BWV 1031, a sweat-drenched Lim supplied Chopin’s Nocturne, Op. 9, No. 2. And here’s a glimpse of his inventive make-up: I’ve little doubt Lim would have been penalized on the Worldwide Chopin Competitors if he performed the composer’s work as he did on Sunday. It was a extremely private take, one by which the meter was stretched from side to side and ornaments missed the straitjacket of rhythmic constancy.

Nevertheless it was the form of impressed, brave enjoying music-lovers have clamored over for many years. For a pianist who spends all day within the observe room, Lim is fairly beneficiant about throwing all warning to the wind when he is on stage. And when the younger South Korean is in his ingredient of him, there are few sounds extra ravishing on this planet.

Some issues are potential solely while you give and danger all the things. And for that, there isn’t a comparability.

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