Monday, February 13, 2012

REVIEW: Kun Woo Paik Plays Ravel

Cultural Centre Concert Hall, Saturday February 11

I LOVE Ravel, especially his piano music. As an album programme, it makes a lot of sense to have all his piano music in two-discs and I like it that way. However, am I ready to sit through a complete Ravel piano music recital in the cramp seats of the concert hall, even if it will be played by Korean virtuoso Kun Woo Paik? When it comes to recitals, experience tells me that I do prefer a bit of variety… perhaps I get easily bored or I am just not sophisticated enough to appreciate such programming…

The recital started with Menuet antique and Paik’s cool classical style is immediately noticeable. With substantial flair, he managed to limit affectations by not going for big and sudden contrasting dynamics. Le tombeau de Couperin was my absolute favorite in the first part with its carefully balanced intensity and colouring.

The first part went extremely well and I looked forward to the second part in which the Gaspard de la nuit (famous for its difficulty) was slated. Paik’s unhurried tempo was surprisingly filled with inner intensity, it was subtle but the undercurrent spookiness was definitely apparent. In contrast with Yevgeny Sudbin (January 19 2011), Sudbin’s was more extroverted, displaying a pictorial account of the piece.

By the time Gaspard de la nuit ended with Scarbo, I had enough of Ravel and I can easily do without the third part… until I came back and heard Pavane pour une infante defunte. It was divine, natural fluidity at its best. The highlight of the third part should have been Miroirs, a suite of five movements, each dedicated to a fellow member of the French Impressionist group, Les Apaches. But for some reason, my mind kept going back to the Pavane pour une infante defunte and had difficulty concentrating on Miroirs.

Kun Woo Paik plays Ravel
February 11 2012

Menuet antique
Menuet sur le nom d’Haydn
Jeux d'eau
Le tombeau de Couperin


Valses nobles et sentimentales
A la manière de Chabrier
A la manière de Borodine
Gaspard de la nuit


Pavane pour une infante défunte

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