Cozy Up and Listen at More Intimate Recitals This Year

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Cozy Up and Listen at More Intimate Recitals This Year

Last year, 13 well-known musicians from abroad held recitals at the Seoul Arts Center Concert Hall, but none managed to fill its 2,600 seats with paid ticket-holders. In fact, only four drew audiences more than 1,000 strong.

Mischa Maisky, a cellist, ranked first with attendance of 1,315, followed by Muraji Kaori, guitarist, with an audience of 1,231.

The countertenor Andreas Scholl drew 1,156 and Maxim Vengerov, a violinist, was fourth with 1,134 seats filled.

Even Mr. Maisky barely succeeded in filling half of the seats in the hall, demonstrating that even well-known musicians may have trouble attracting audiences of more than 1,000 to their recitals.

Overseas, smaller, cozier halls are increasingly being favored for solo recitals as they allow the soloist to communicate closely with the audience. If the listener can hear the musician breathe and the musician can sense the excitement of the audience, the intensity of the performance can be heightened.

For instance, the Wigmore Hall in London, which holds 550, has been the venue for performances by the world's greatest musicians, among them Andreas Scholl, the pianist Andras Schiff, the soprano Barbara Bonney and the baritone Matthias Goerne. This year marks the hall's 100th anniversary.

With a nod to this trend for intimate recitals, the LG Arts Center presents a series of four piano recitals this winter and spring in its 1,100-seat hall. They will feature Emanuel Ax on Feb. 17, Jean-Yves Thibaudet on Feb. 22, Peter Jablonski on March 17 and Yefim Bronfman on June 8. LG Arts Center and Credia, an arts management company, planned this piano series together after realizing that large halls were better suited to concerts by stars.

Mr. Ax, 52, first claimed the attention of the classical music world in 1972 when he took seventh place in the Queen Elizabeth International Piano Competition.

Two years later, at just 25 years of age, he took the first prize at the Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition. He formerly played with Kim Young-uk, violinist, and Ma Yo-yo, cellist, as the Ax-Kim-Ma Trio. This will be the first visit to Korea for this well-established musician, who will play Claude Debussy's "Images" Set 1 and Set 2, J.S. Bach's Partita No.1 in B-flat major, and Franz Schubert's Sonata in B-flat major, D960. This more difficult repertoire is evidence that Mr. Ax is not pursuing easy popularity with audiences.

Mr. Thibaudet, 40, who made his first visit to Korea in 1997, will play Debussy's 12 Preludes, Book 2, Maurice Ravel's "Miroirs" and Olivier Messiaen's "Vingt Regards sur l'Enfant Jesus."

Mr. Jablonski, 30, will feature Frederic Chopin's Polonaises, Johannes Brahms' Piano Sonata No. 2, Bela Bartok's Sonatina and "Suite for Piano, Op. 14." He will also play Debussy's "Images," Set 1.

Mr. Bronfman, 43, who visited Korea 10 years ago, will play Esa-Pekka Salonen's "Dichotome," Sergei Prokofiev's Piano Sonata No.7, and Ludwig van Beethoven's Sonata for Piano No. 23.

He has won accolades from Issac Stern, a violin virtuoso considered the "godfather" of Jewish musicians.

LG Arts Center is at Yeoksam-dong intersection, near exit 7 of Yeoksam subway station on line 2.

Ticket prices for each recital are comparatively inexpensive at 40,000 won ($22), 30,000 won and 20,000 won.

A special "all-in-one" deal is also available for the first 100 people who reserve tickets to all the recitals. They will get a 30 percent discount.

For more information, call LG Arts Center at 02-2005-0114 (Korean-speakers only) or 02-2005-1421 (English-speakers).

The LG Arts Center is also online at

by Lee Jang-jik

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