Classical Music Guide Forum - Wednesday, July 27, 2011 - Written by Donald Isler

HaeSun Paik Recital - IKIF

Mozart: Fantasy in D minor, K. 397
Schumann: Fantasy in C major, Op. 17
Liszt: Six Grand Paganini Etudes, S. 141

Last year Haesun Paik played a sensational recital, including the Schumann Humoresque and the Scriabin Fifth Sonata, at the Festival. This evening's program, though certainly well-played, lacked some of the energy and visceral excitement of last year's concert.

Ms. Paik is a true Romantic pianist, and one hears that in everything she plays. The Mozart Fantasy which began the program, was soulful and beautiful, though some people might prefer a bit less tempo fluctuation.

The Schumann Fantasy is a natural for someone with Ms. Paik's musical inclinations. The first movement was very fine. The second movement, with the fearsome coda, was more thoughtful than physical and she focused on bringing out interesting details, such as the dotted rhythms, before throwing herself into the last section. After which, though it's not the end of the work, her enthusiastic audience applauded her heartily.

The third movement had some wonderful moments, including the swirling arpeggiated modulations near the end, and some soft passages. She is often at her most expressive at the low end of the dynamic range.

Ms. Paik played the Liszt/Paganini Etudes with more strength, and they were all effective. Il Tremolo was large-scaled and dramatic. If her playing of the E Flat major Etude may not put the ancient Horowitz recording out of business it had the appropriate combination of fleetness, charm and bombast. La Campanella sizzled, and the two E major Etudes were delightful. The concluding A minor Theme and Variations were powerful, and again produced great enthusiasm, and a standing ovation from many of her fans.

Ms. Paik concluded with one encore, the popular Liszt arrangement of the Schumann song, Widmung.

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