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Old 11-08-17, 06:51 AM
Todd A Todd A is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2008
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Since I've listened to a couple discs from Dong-Hyek Lim, I figured I should hear how well his older brother plays. The elder Lim, older by four years, studied in Russia, Germany, and the US, and he is now a professor in Korea. In 2005, he tied for third with his brother at the Chopin competition, so at the very least he should be very good. Dong-Min has not reached international star or something approaching star status like his brother, and this Korean language only release is obviously a local market release by Sony Korea.

Dong-Hyek's Chopin Preludes disc ends with the Barcarolle, and Dong-Min's starts with the same work, so a quick A/B was done with the first listen. The overall timing is only seconds apart, with Dong-Min slightly faster overall, but one wouldn't know that listening to the opening, which is slightly gentler and darker hued and slower sounding. As the piece progresses, Lim picks up the pace, but he never sounds rushed, and the left hand is insistent but not as clean, with the older Lim generating a more blended sound, at least as recorded. The piece almost imperceptibly ratchets up tension and speed until the climax, and while not as lilting as some overall, it's superb. Call it a draw between the two pianists.

The disc moves on to a single Nocturne, Op 55, Number 2, and Lim displays very fine dynamic gradations at the lower end of the spectrum, with different voices played at different levels. It's very deliberate yet very flowing, but it does not evoke any mystery or darkness, seeming like an abstract miniature fantasia, and somehow, despite the deliberate playing, it almost sounds improvised. A full cycle from the pianist would surely be welcome.

Next up is the main work, the Third Sonata. At over thirty-one minutes total, Lim is no speed demon, and indeed, he doesn't storm out of the gate in his over thirteen minute Allegro maestoso, preferring to present a more forensic take. The independence of hands and varying volume levels are so good and distinct it almost sounds like a studio trick as his left hand playing will remain super clean and clear but noticeably quieter than the right hand melody, which nonetheless doesn't dominate. Lim coaxes some beautiful sounds from his piano, and his playing remains captivatingly exact. The Scherzo is a bit quicker, but again Lim is all about supreme clarity and exactitude. The Largo opens with powerful, weighty playing, sounding almost organ-like, and then Lim quickly and effortlessly slows way down and plays with gentle beauty. He opens the Presto nan tanto with controlled speed and power in the introduction, and the rest of the movement never really sounds unleashed, with Lim's control of everything most captivating. Strangely, though the rhythm never sounds galloping or pronounced, the forward momentum is unyielding. In general, I tend to like faster sounding versions of this sonata, like, say, Alexis Weissenberg's blockbuster RCA recording, but Lim makes as strong a case as I've heard for a slower sounding, more meticulous approach.

The disc closes with the B-flat minor Scherzo. Lim plays with more overt virtuosity, but he never sheds the sense of absolute control over every aspect of the playing. Here, the playing can sound a bit studied at times, but it still works very well, and it has the same unyielding forward momentum as the closing movement of the sonata.

There's some subtle vocalizing evident throughout the recording, and sonics are SOTA but a bit closer and softer edged when compared to his brother's recording.

It sounds like the Lim family has two superb pianists.
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