Daniel Hyunwoo at St Mary’s – A wondrous voyage of discovery with mastery and authority

Thursday 21 April 3.00 pm


Mastery and monumental are two words that are all too little to describe the authority and beauty of the recital by Daniel Hyunwoo.Three Debussy preludes played with such character and self identification that one was not aware of the absolute mastery and control that allowed the music to become truly ‘pictures in sound’.Fingers that seemed to fit each note like a glove where each finger was allowed to dig deep into the keys to extract the exact sound that Daniel had in his poetic soul.Not only absolute authority in which there was no doubt about the message he was transmitting.He had gone deep into the soul of the music too and with superb technical control and intelligence had led us through a technical maze with a clarity and sense of architectural shape that was remarkable.

It was more then ever noticeable in his playing of Schubert of how the anchor in the bass allowed him such freedom to discover so many wondrous sounds but without ever sacrificing the great wave on which we were travelling on a timeless voyage of discovery.The simplicity of the musical line and the beauty of sound that flowed so naturally from his fingers was quite mesmerising.A voyage that after the scintillating kaleidoscopic colours of Debussy he had entered via the world of Bach with sounds of luminosity,clarity and a simplicity that allowed the music to speak with such poignancy.It was a voyage that he had been persuaded to take by a colleague Damir Duramovic who was in the audience and who Daniel accused of having imparted his undying love for Schubert. https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.wordpress.com/2022/04/18/damir-duramovic-at-cranleigh-arts-a-musician-speaks-with-simplicity-and-poetry/. His encore he dedicated to Damir whose performance had inspired him to learn the Schubert Drei Klavierstucke .Daniel played the first of them with a drive and sense of architectural shape that was remarkable for its solidity and a central episode of passionate abandon almost improvised with its streams of ravishing embellishments.

Debussy wrote two books of 12 Preludes and Daniel chose three from the second book that was written between 1912 and 1913.The German-English pianist Walter Morse Rummel a student of Leopold Godowsky, gave the premiere of the entire second book of preludes in 1913 in London.The titles of the preludes are highly significant, both in terms of their descriptive quality and in the way they were placed in the written score. The titles are written at the end of each work,allowing the performer to experience each individual sound world without being influenced by Debussy’s titles beforehand.Les fées sont d’exquises danseuses» is from J.M. Barrie’s book ‘Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens’ which Debussy’s daughter had received as a gift.It was the first of three Preludes that Daniel played and was remarkable for its absolute clarity and sumptuous sense of style with its magical sounds of atmospheric trills.There was a beautiful melodic sense of line with jeux perlé comments of streams of silvery sounds thrown off with such ease.General Lavine was eccentric indeed with his pompous appearance dissolving into a cake walk.The rapid changes of mood were played with quixotic temperament from the strident to the seductive with such apparent ease and ‘joie de vivre’ to the final stomping off of the General.There was pure magic in ‘La ternasse…….’with streams of glistening sounds and a rousing climax that dissolves as quickly as it appears leading to the final luminous atmospheric sounds of ravishing effect.

The Prelude and Fugue in F sharp minor from Book 2 of Bach’s 48 was played with a luminosity of sound and sublime simplicity as it was allowed to flow so poignantly out of Daniel’s sensitive fingers .Fingers that seemed to grip the keys with such loving care where the return of the main theme was pure magic as it wove its way to such a beautiful final cadence.The fugue was played in a deliberate way where there was a great sense of shape and natural forward movement.’Knotty twine’ as Delius may have described Bach but in Daniel’s hands there was absolute clarity and sense of architectural shape where the amazing intricacies of the three voice fugue created a work of monumental power.

Schubert’s last three piano sonatas , D 958, 959 and 960, are his last major compositions for solo piano. They were written during the last months of his life, between the spring and autumn of 1828, but were not published until about ten years after his death, in 1838–39.Like the rest of Schubert’s piano sonatas, they were mostly neglected in the 19th century but by the late 20th century, however, public and critical opinion had changed, and these sonatas are now considered among the most important of the composer’s mature masterpieces. The last year of Schubert’s life was marked by growing public acclaim for the composer’s works, but also by the gradual deterioration of his health. On March 26, 1828, together with other musicians in Vienna Schubert gave a public concert of his own works, which was a great success and earned him a considerable profit. In addition, two new German publishers took an interest in his works, leading to a short period of financial well-being. However, by the time the summer months arrived, Schubert was again short of money and had to cancel some journeys he had previously planned.He had been struggling with syphilis since 1822–23, and suffered from weakness, headaches and dizziness. However, he seems to have led a relatively normal life until September 1828, when new symptoms appeared. At this stage he moved from the Vienna home of his friend Franz von Schober to his brother Ferdinand’s house in the suburbs, following the advice of his doctor; unfortunately, this may have actually worsened his condition. However, up until the last weeks of his life in November 1828, he continued to compose an extraordinary amount of music, including such masterpieces as the three last sonatas.

There was a rhythmic drive and nobility to the opening of this penultimate sonata .An authority that allowed no doubt as to its inner meaning and musical shape.There was great weight to the beautiful cantabile of the Andantino.Nostalgia and wondrous colours worthy of many a great singer leading gradually to the turbulence of the middle episode.So unexpected and unrelenting as it died away to a mere whisper with the return of the main theme and barely audible embellishments played with a transcendental control of sound.The scherzo was played with great character and there was a beautiful sense of shape to the melodic line in the trio with delicate counterpoints above and below.The Rondo was beautifully phrased with its long outpouring of song .There was great drama too and a coda of rhythmic energy and excitement.The end of a wondrous journey in the hands of a true poet who could guide us with such simplicity and authority.

Daniel Hyunwoo is quickly establishing himself as one of the most exciting pianists and musicians of his generation. Having been offered generous scholarships to study at both the Guildhall School of Music and Drama under Joan Havill and the Royal College of music under Norma Fisher, Daniel has since gone on to establish himself as one the UK’s most promising emerging artists.
Daniel has won prizes in international Piano Competitions in the USA, Europe and Asia and was the recipient of both the Kerr Memorial Award and the Euregio Piano Award. He has performed recitals and collaborations at venues in London including the Wigmore Hall, Cadogan Hall and Milton Court and has performed concertos, recitals and chamber music around the world in countries such as Norway, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Israel, China, Korea and the USA.
Daniel continues to take on mentors for his musical development and has worked extensively with three great American musicians; Richard Goode, Robert Levin and Benjamin Zander on a wide range of repertoire as he develops his career. Daniel continues to display his wide range of musical abilities in the fields of composing, conducting and in classical and jazz improvisation; having his string quartet performed on BBC Radio 3 live from the proms, improvising stylistic cadenzas in performances of Mozart Concerti and collaborating in concert with Sholmi Goldberg on standards such as ‘Summertime’ and ‘it ain’t necessarily so.’

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