Pianist puts controversies behind him

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Pianist puts controversies behind him

As a young pianist who has been labeled a “music prodigy,” Lim Dong-hyek’s performances have created much controversy.
The first episode occurred in August 2000, when several judges resigned after Lim was passed over at Italy’s Busoni International Piano Competition.
Three years later, a similar event prompted Lim to refuse the third prize in the Queen Elisabeth International Music Competition in Brussels, amid complaints that the jury was biased. The event, which Lim prefers to put behind him, drew both public sympathy and criticism.
Sadly, these events have kept the public from seeing Lim’s musical maturity. Lim, 20, is now a student of Israeli pianist Arie Vardi’s at the Hochschule fur Musik in Hannover, Germany, leaving behind Russia, his musical home, where he studied at the Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatory with Lev Naumov.
Lim has released his second recording with EMI, which includes some of the musician’s favorite pieces by Chopin.
In the wake of this release, he is holding a second solo recital at the Seoul Arts Center tomorrow.
During the concert, Lim will perform a mix of Chopin, Schubert and Prokofiev, including Chopin’s “3 Mazurkas Op. 59” and “Sonata No. 2” from his new album.
In the past, Lim has expressed his fondness for Chopin, saying he shares a similar musical sensibility with the late composer, who played according to his feel. Lim’s debut album with EMI also included four pieces by Chopin, including “Scherzo No. 2 in B flat Minor, Op. 31,” “Nocturne in D flat, Op. 27 No. 2,” “Ballade No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 23” and “Etude in C, Op. 10 No. 1.”
Lim’s capacity for digesting complicated pieces was once overlooked, with critics focusing more on his technical command. That has changed, however, with his British debut at Wigmore Hall last month, earning him praise from BBC Magazine, which described Lim as a performer who “betokens real music making.”
The magazine’s critic, Hans-Theodor Wohlfahrt, wrote that Lim had deliberately risked comparison with many famous interpretations by playing works that every piano enthusiast is familiar with.
“One wondered if this young pianist was trying to foster his career through arrogance,” he wrote referring to last year’s incident at the Queen Elisabeth. “His appearance on the platform showed neither vanity nor arrogance . . . without the slightest mannerism. His playing never produced a single harsh tone; instead we had constant beauty, changing his intonation where necessary and never loosing sight of the overall view.”


by Park Soo-mee

Lim Dong-hyek’s piano recital takes place at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Concert Hall of Seoul Arts Center. Tickets cost 30,000, 50,000 and 70,000 won. For more information, call (02) 1588-7890.
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