Practically born to play Chopin, pianist Bunin returns to Seoul

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Practically born to play Chopin, pianist Bunin returns to Seoul

In 1985, judges at the 11th Annual Chopin International Competition for Pianists in Warsaw had no choice but to vote for Stanislav Bunin. Despite making a couple of obvious mistakes, his interpretations were just too good to vote against. At just 19, Mr. Bunin was the youngest to ever win the contest. However, his early success was not completely unexpected.
Call it a cliche, but Stanislav Bunin is a born pianist. Born in 1966, Mr. Bunin can traces his musical roots to his grandfather, Genrich Neygauz, who established the orthodox Russian style of pianism. Both of his parents were pianists and he spent his youth at the Moscow Conservatory.
After his musical education in Russia, he departed his native land and started touring all around the globe. He first moved to Japan in 1992, and thanks to his popularity there was able to open a conservatory. His vigorous career did not stop in Japan but expanded throughout the world, with Mr. Bunin holding more than 300 concerts worldwide between 1986 and 1996.
His fame in Japan is almost surreal, drawing the kind of ardor usually reserved for pop icons, not classical pianists. Fans sleep in line on sidewalks to buy tickets to his performances.
He has won numerous Japanese music awards, and one of his albums, featuring a recording of his performance at the Chopin contest in 1985, has sold more than 400,000 copies there.
Mr. Bunin is arguably the world’s foremost Chopin specialist. His interpretations of Chopin are clearly different from those of other performers. “I feel some kind of responsibility to express Chopin through my soul,” Mr. Bunin says. Although he refuses to limit his repertoire to Chopin, he still holds at least one concert in Warsaw every year as a way of expressing his respect for the composer.
Five years ago in Seoul, Mr. Bunin caused a minor uproar when he decided on the spot that he would not play Chopin’s Etude No. 10. The song was on the program, but Mr. Bunin said later that he felt he could not play the song on that night as it deserved to be played. He came back the next year and played the piece, but he said he was still unable to deliver his best rendition. The song is not on the program for his performance this time around.
When he takes the stage at Seoul Arts Center Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., he will play works by Bach, Schubert and, of course, Chopin.


by Eugine Oh

Tickets for the show cost 30,000 won ($25.40) to 90,000 won. To reach Seoul Arts Center, leave exit No. 5 of the Nambu Bus Terminal/Seoul Arts Center station on subway line No. 3; it’s about a 10-minute walk. For more information, call (02) 541-6234 or go to www.sac.or.kr/eng.
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