2 musicians find keys in the works of grand masters

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2 musicians find keys in the works of grand masters

Rachmaninov and Chopin are two composers known for their mastery of the piano, a foundation that spilled over into how they approached all the pieces they created.

The cellist Yang Sung-won has just released an album in which he performs one cello sonata written by each composer. This is the second album for Yang, after his first release on disk, a collection of Zoltan Kodaly's sonatas.

Yang's latest work was recorded last May in Canada with the pianist Moon Ick-choo, who has been Yang's musical partner since 1996. Although representative of classical Romantic era cello music, the works have nonetheless been hard to come by in recent times.

The Chopin piece Yang chose was wryly described by the Polish-born master as "a brilliant musical piece well-suited for the salon." The work is considered to bring out the best of the cello's idiosyncratic sounds.

But the chef d'oeuvre of this album is without a doubt the piece by Rachmaninov, who was considered to be conservative by his contemporaries of the early 20th century. The work is thoroughly profound and powerful, with a strong motif that resembles an orchestral piece. Surprisingly, the sonata is seldom performed these days. The recorded performance of this work seems to have been more rich, intense and assertive than that of the Chopin piece.

The capable work of Moon, Yang's accompanist, should not be overlooked. In fact, both sonatas are known for their heavy reliance on the piano. Another feature of the album is the harmonious combination of Yang and Moon. The experience they've gained by playing together as a duo shows in this work.

Yang, now a professor at the Korean National University of Arts, graduated from the National Conservatory of Music in Paris and also completed an artist's diploma at Indiana University. He has performed at Lincoln Center in New York City, the Salle Gabeau in Paris and the NHK Hall in Tokyo.

Moon Ick-choo, who teaches at Seoul National University, graduated from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and earned a doctorate at Juilliard.

On April 25 at the Ho-Am Art Hall, the duo will perform the Rachmaninov sonata from the new album as well as a Brahms cello sonata.

by Lee Jang-jik

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