Brighton Year-Round 2019
Yoon Seok played Haydn’s Piano Sonata in C HB 50, Schubert’s Allegretto in C minor D915, and Beethoven’s Sonata in D major Op 28 ‘Pastoral’.
Yoon Seok’s already internationally-known and plays in St John’s Smith Square, the Southbank Centre, St Martin’s-in-th-Fields and St James Piccadilly, and at the Nobel Prize awards. His tone’s big, bold and dynamically sensitive. But he has terrific address and panache. He brings this unusually to a purely classical-era repertoire.
He first played Haydn’s Piano Sonata in C HB 50, then Schubert’s Allegretto in C minor D915, and Beethoven’s Sonata in D major Op 28 ‘Pastoral’.
The Haydn suits him. A late work from 1794 written fro his muse and possible lover Therese Jansen, it starts off with a trilling Allegro suddenness as Haydn and Seok slams the chords in a challenge only slightly ameliorated by the slight birdsong effect. The speed and dispatch of this is vertiginous.
It’s offset by the F major Adagio, a searching piece that exudes melancholy, though in the major, a bright sadness presaging Schubert in more than the tearful major tone. There’s a probing too presaging slightly later Beethoven, say from the Op 2 or Op 10. The finale trips it in the Allegro molto with an almost innocent insouciance. And a few jokes.
Schubert’s Allegretto in C minor D915 is a study in legato handling and shading, with immeasurable warmth inside the melancholy as well as a drawing-out of resources. Again, there’s sensitivity and quiet in this work a calm between two turbulences, if not outright storms.
Finally Beethoven’s Sonata No. 15 in D major Op 28 ‘Pastoral’ provides its own challenges with an exploratory but leisurely un-coiling of a first Allegro, powered with sidesteps and a few emphatic szforzandos. The Andante’s a searching and proving movement with repeats of dark and alien feeling not unlike the Schubert’s darker reaches, and despite the work’s title.
It’s a game of two halves too with this pianist. The Scherzo an Allegro Vivace, is wonderfully chock full of descending chords the tendency for szforzandos taken as each explodes – Seok relishes this, and the whole jokey edifice. As he does the gentler but truly animated Finale a Rondo Allegto ma non troppo with tis drone bass and two-note chirpy note of relaxation throughout. The dynamics Seok achieves within a wholly musical reading, full of warmth and aplomb, makes me think of this ‘lesser’ sonata afresh. Which is another way to say that this is a truly distinguished recital.