Collection: Haesun Paik

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Mendelssohn,Ravel,Schumann
LABELS: EMI Debut
WORKS: La valse; Spinning Song; Humoreske
PERFORMER: Haesun Paik (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CDZ 5 72827 2

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These days it is harder than ever for gifted young artists to find a platform, so all credit to EMI for producing its enterprising Debut series. The latest releases feature recital discs by three very promising pianists. The French-born Jonathan Gilad presents a challenging programme, with late sonatas by Mozart and Beethoven and Brahms’s massive Handel Variations. Gilad’s phrasing and tone quality are flawless at the surface, but the total impression is studied and over-cautious. When he does allow panache its head in the concluding fugue of the Brahms, the result is superb. Unaware of the protagonist’s age at time of listening, I felt I would look forward to hearing him when he has matured. He turns out to be all of 17.

Haesun Paik’s disc is more immediately engaging. A prize-winner at numerous international competitions, she is an extrovert player of both virtuosity and charm. Her touch is light and glittering in Mendelssohn’s Spinning Song and she creates atmosphere immediately at the start of each piece. Her Schumann Humoreske boasts a variety of sensibilities and provides an excellent contrast for the virtuosic heights of Ravel’s La valse, which she meets with no holds barred. But Aleksandar Serdar (31, from Belgrade) emerges as the most mature and individual of the three. His luminous tone colour in the disc’s first piece, the Sonata No. 5 by Galuppi, is instantly striking; his flexibility and sensitivity are beautifully displayed in the Chopin and Mendelssohn works and independence of imagination in the Brahms waltzes.

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The Bach/Busoni Chaconne unleashes great reserves of heavyweight power which he has sensibly reserved for the music that suits it. This well-developed young artist clearly has the courage of his convictions. Jessica Duchen