Yekwon Sunwoo
Int. Release 18 Aug. 2017
1 CD / Download

Track List

Maurice Ravel (1875 - 1937)

Richard Strauss (1864 - 1949), Percy Grainger (1882 - 1961)
Marc-Andre Hamelin (1961 - )
Franz Joseph Haydn (1732 - 1809)
Sonate pour piano N° 58 en ut majeur Hob XVI:48


Franz Liszt (1811 - 1886), Franz Schubert (1797 - 1828)
Sergey Vasil'yevich Rachmaninov (1873 - 1943)
Piano Sonata No.2 In B Flat Minor, Op.36

Yekwon Sunwoo

Total Playing Time: 59:29

It opens with a technically awesome account of "La valse" with bombshell fortissimo chords, crystalline articulation and a keyboard attack of regimental precision. It is very fast and very powerful and has the desired effect . . . [the French secular song "L'homme armé" is] mother's milk to Sunwoo, who dispatches its scintillating pages with relish . . . [Rachmaninov's Piano Sonata no. 2 is a] finger-fest and note-perfect delineation of the score . . . Sunwoo's account is hard to beat . . .

. . . [Yekwon Sunwoo] is a worthy winner and a rising star in the piano firmament. He is a thoughtful and serious musician, and clearly has a prodigious technique . . . [Ravel's "La valse"] gave Sunwoo the opportunity to demonstrate his full technical arsenal. He played with crystalline clarity throughout, layering the textures beautifully and bringing out Ravel's multiple inner voices. Sunwoo demonstrated enormous refinement in this performance. He artfully shaped Ravel's swirling arabesques while characterising the various transformations of the waltz theme beautifully. The piece becomes increasingly frenetic and hysterical in the final section. Sunwoo rose to the challenge: he brilliantly gave us thrilling, high voltage playing before bringing the house down with a virtuoso tour de force. The best performance I have heard of this piece in recent years is by Yuja Wang. Sunwoo matches her both in terms of technical polish and virtuoso firepower. I was pleased that Sunwoo included Percy Grainger's "Ramble on the Lost Love"-Duet from "Der Rosenkavalier" . . . Sunwoo's performance was both sumptuous and fragile, perfectly depicting the famous scene where Octavian presents his silver rose. Grainger's own performance of the Ramble is quite extraordinary. I do not think anyone will ever match it but Sunwoo's performance certainly came close and was absolutely spellbinding. Sunwoo also gave a highly convincing performance of Hamelin's Toccata on "L'homme armé" . . . With his performance of Haydn's C Major Sonata Hob. XVI: 48, Sunwoo showed that he is more than capable of flexing his musical as well as his technical muscles. The first movement was light and crisp, with Haydn's lines delineated cleanly. Sunwoo's articulation was superb, and there was close attention to the composer's detailed markings throughout. The Presto second movement had wit and charm, and Haydn's scampering passagework was a delight . . . Sunwoo's performance was highly accomplished . . . [Rachmaninov / Piano Sonata no. 2]: The first movement opened in dramatic, imposing fashion. Sunwoo did an excellent job of capturing the brooding agitato feeling. I was struck by the variety of tone colours and the way in which Sunwoo navigated his way so seamlessly through this long and complex movement. The slow movement was poetic and refined, and Sunwoo's handling of the final cadenza was awe inspiring . . . there is no doubting Sunwoo's burnished beauty of tone. The finale had rhythmic propulsion and dynamism, and the final coda was a blistering tour de force . . . Overall, this is an outstanding disc. Sunwoo is clearly destined for great things in the classical music world.

Superbly assured pianism . . . [Sunwoo is] sensitive in Haydn and full-blown in Ravel's "La valse".

. . . [this disc] highlights his round-toned, bold, and commanding pianism. Sunwoo's account of Ravel's "La Valse" contains electrifying vitality, with brilliant splashes of color and tsunami-like glissandi. The Lento of Rachmaninoff's second sonata, Op. 36, is delivered with improvisatory sweep and emotional depth, and Sunwoo tosses off Marc-Andre Hamelin's sparkling Toccata on "L'homme armé" and the Rondo of Haydn's Sonata, No. 58, with virtuosic flair and effortless finger work . . . This is star-quality playing.