HAYDN: Piano Sonata in C major, Hob. XVI:48; RACHMANINOFF: Corelli Variations, Op.42; LISZT: Grandes Études de Paganini, S.141 – Jooyoung Kim, p – MSR Classics MS1636, 56:52 ****:
South Korean-born pianist Jooyoung Kim serves on the faculties of Indiana University East and Indiana University Kokomo. If I was an up-and-coming piano student, I would not hesitate to enroll post haste at one of those institutions, based on what I hear on this interesting disc.
The virtuosic Haydn is one of his two-movement sonatas, certainly one of his most energetic, the variation-style first movement contrasting nicely with the engaging and technically difficult second. The variation theme continues with Rachmaninoff’s last composition for solo piano, the fiendish Variations on a Theme of Corelli (the La Folia theme, not actually by Corelli, but used in his Opus 5 sonata). This work, one of the composer’s greatest, proves a formidable test for any pianist, and Kim shines with brilliance and impressive nuance as she navigates the difficulties.
But it is in the last work, Franz Liszt’s Grandes Études de Paganini where this pianist really shows her mettle. These six etudes, based on violin compositions by Paganini and dedicated to Clara Schumann, are extraordinarily difficult, among the most trying works in the entire piano literature. Kim navigates through these problems like a falcon gliding on air, displaying formidable technical acumen and rarified subtlety in those passages that demand reflection and repose. This is by all counts a fine album, bringing to light an artist that deserves to be heard again!