By: Iride Aparicio

Photos Courtesy: The Steinway Society

SILICON VALLEY, CA -- The  STEINWAY SOCIETY The Bay Area,  Opened its 28th Season of piano concerts with a sold-out live and streamed concert of young  Korean pianist Yunchan Lim, better known around the music circles as the youngest person ever to win gold at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. Lim has ascended to international stardom at the age of 18 and has been described by Marin Alsop, the Competition's Jury Chair as "a rare artist who brings profound musicality and prodigious technique to his playing." 


The artist is professional and poised. During his sold-out and live streamed concert at the Montgomery Theatre in downtown San José, the tall slender pianist entered the stage attired in a black suit white shirt and black tie. Walking erect, he stopped at the center of the stage to greet his audience with a bow, and after that, he walked to the Grand Steinway piano, sat on its bench, and began playing.

The piano piece Lim selected to start his concert, Brahms Four Ballades, Op. 10. in four movements:  No.1 in D Minor, Andante, No 2 in D Major, Andante, No 3 in B minor , intermezzo, Allegro, and No.4, In B major, Andante con Moto is a difficult piece. As a composer, Brahms is considered by many musicologists the "Father of Classical Music," and one of the reasons is that in order to be able to play his music properly,it requires mastery in playing it and interpreting on the part of the pianist. One of the reasons is that in order to put expression in Brahms' music, the pianist need to do changes in speed, and volume, aside from mastery the difficulty in playing the notes. As a German Composer, pianist and Conductor Johannes Brahms's (l833-l897) wrote these Ballads at the time define in Music history as the mid-Romantic period, which is a time where the interpretation of music required to interpret the music with lot of feeling. Playing it at medium volume, Lim allowed us to listen to every written note in the pieces clearly, become aware of the changes of tempo, from fast to Andante con Moto and every other nuance in the music such as volume's changes from Piano to Forte to Fortissimo, .in other words, Lim's interpretation of Brahms, made us to feel Brahms' music.

Well interpreted was also his Mendelssohn's , Fantasy in F-sharp Minor, Op.28, also known as Scottish Sonata, which the pianist interpreted seamlessly, managing the many volume changes and many changes in music speed, which include Agitato, Allegro con Moto y Presto, at a volume with was never too loud and may be considered perfect.


After a short intermission we listened to  Liszt's "St.Francois d'Assise: La prédication aux oiseaus, from Deus Legend, S, 175/1, "St. François de Paule: marchant sur les flots", from Deux legend, A 175/2, and Aprés une lecture du Dante: Fantasia quasi Sonta', from Années"de péerigange ii, s. l61/7, which are not often heard in piano concerts and are not some of Liszt's better known compositions.

His first Liszt piece began with a series of soft high notes, played on the upper keyboard of the piano, followed by arpeggios. the piece required hands crossings and changes of volume, from soft to sonorous chords, melody changes from the high to the low keyboard and being Liszt sonorous chords. In contrast, when the melody moved to the upper keyboard it was played softly by both hands. The effect, may be described as the sounded soft rain drops falling gently on the keyboard.

Liszt melodies are very difficult to play for any pianist, They required dexterity on the fingers, long fingers and strong hands, but  Lim mastered each one. His timing in each of the three pieces was right, his volume, well controlled, and his execution and speed ascending and descending the scales fast admirable. For lovers of classical music interpreted with feeling Yunchan Lim, gave them both in one marvelous afternoon.  He followed his concert with two encores, which included a Chopin's piece. Lim's concert opened the Steinway Society Concerts with a golden broach.