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Changyong Shin - Bach, Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven

Release Date: 01/19/2018
Label: Steinway & Sons Catalog #: 30068
Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach ,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart ,  Franz Joseph Haydn ,  Ludwig van Beethoven Performer:  ChangYong Shin

Changyong Shin, the gifted winner of the 2016 Hilton Head International Competition, debuts on the Steinway Label with a shimmering program that highlights his passionate musicianship and astounding technique.

R E V I E W S:

Korean pianist Changyong Shin, 21 years old when this album was recorded in 2017, has won prizes in his home country and at the Hilton Head piano competition in the U.S. In America he has studied with Robert McDonald at the Curtis Institute and the Juilliard School. You might be expecting a young technician attuned to the color-within-the-lines of competitions, and the pure core repertory program and Shin's straightforward reading of the Bach Toccata in D major, BWV 912, might confirm that
Read more impression. From there, however, the recording opens out as if from a chrysalis. Perhaps the most impressive of all is Shin's reading of the Mozart Piano Sonata in D major, K. 576. Shin, keeping everything at a quiet, unassuming level, does a fabulous job of pulling out the dense contrapuntal strands of this late Mozart work. Sample the Allegretto finale, especially at the beginning of the development section, where the opening motif is reintroduced as a light splash of color before unexpectedly returning with emphasis a minute later. Shin convincingly shifts gears in the Haydn Piano Sonata No. 60 in C major, H.16/50 with its profoundly humorous secondary dominant in the finale, and even in the Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 28 in A major, Op. 101, he captures the ecstasy of the finale in a convincing way, adding a touch of drama to its introduction. Few pianists of his age have grasped the depths of late Beethoven as Shin does, and the sound from the acoustically fine Steinway Hall in New York is another plus. Not just a promising debut but an unusually good recording of these repertory works.

-- AllMusic Guide

I always enjoy hearing recitals by emerging artists. Shin studied at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia and has been a winner in a number of prestigious competitions. This recital is a means to showcase his versatility with the standard repertoire. He performs Bach’s Toccata, BWV 912, Mozart’s Hunt sonata, K. 576, Haydn’s sonata no. 60, and Beethoven’s A major sonata, op. 101.

Shin is a technically-precise musician, but likewise applies rubato and dynamic shading to his playing. The recorded sound in this release is first-rate. The piano—a Steinway D—is even-toned, blooming ever so much in the middle register. The acoustic is live enough to celebrate the piano’s sound without anything feeling washed-out. Shin descends into the quiet shadows capable of the instrument many times so that the few outbursts come across as grand, rich explosions of color, as in the Beethoven Vivace Alla Marcia.

Shin’s Bach for me is polite and somewhat underwhelming. This is a pianist approaching Bach, with no attempt to reference the sound world of Bach’s keyboard instruments. The opening is played forte, with even pressure but then the first cadences feel artificial. There’s nothing distasteful about his approach, but the dynamic contrasts are artificial constructs. That said, these dynamic contrasts help to underscore the somewhat fleeting styles Bach includes in his toccatas, making use of the piano’s capacity over, say, a harpsichord. Three-quarters of the way through the piece, Shin’s Bach for me improves, his command of articulation in the almost percussive theme Bach weaves is clearly present; the finale shows no mercy, with Shin only slowing down into the final cadence, offering us likely Bach’s original intention of arresting attention with an exciting flurry of notes.

In terms of interpretation, I feel Shin is more at home and comfortable with the classical literature.

Shin’s Mozart is wrapped up in a capricious style that prioritizes the transparency between melody and accompaniment. His phrasing is nearly perfect, with no shortage of dynamic shading. The full power of the modern grand is kept in check. Shin probably does exceed the dynamic capacity of a period piano, but only in small amounts, and always in service to the music.

The Mozart sonata is a bit of a miniature, presented smartly, I believe, ahead of the more serious Haydn. Shin’s lightness of touch in the opening Allegro of the Haydn sonata is a technical marvel. He has very good control. This control is also on display between the dynamic contrasts; either in concert between both hands, or when the melody needs to cut through the texture.

In the Haydn Adagio, another talent of Shin’s shines: his talent with phrasing pulls us along as Haydn presents variations of his melodic material. The shape of phrase makes for beautiful music in the opening of the Beethoven sonata as well. The most challenging piece may be the Beethoven third movement, at least when it comes to interpretation. The short movement starts out much more like a somber sung chorale. Paul Lewis, in his recording, exercises more constraint. The difference is that Shin is more willing to let more “light” into his interpretation. Full light, of course, emerges in the finale, marked Allegro.

A very strong recital that combines technical polish, gifts in phrasing and dynamic contrasts, and a musical understanding that reveals for the listener with transparency the voicing of different pieces. Shin has an excellent ear for the classical style. The recital chosen, ending with the Beethoven sonata that concludes in almost Bachian counterpoint, and beginning with a Bach toccata, seems very well conceived.

-- Audiophile Audition Read less