Pianist Seong-Jin Cho May 1

Great Artists Series performance to feature music of Ravel, Chopin

Pianist Seong-Jin Cho will perform works by Ravel and Chopin May 1. The performance also serves as the Department of Music’s annual Carlin Event. (Photo: Harald Hoffmann)

South Korean pianist Seong-Jin Cho is “a master” (Wall Street Journal) who pairs “remarkable dexterity” with “sensitivity and a quirky interpretive personality” (San Francisco Chronicle).

At 7 p.m. Sunday, May 1, Cho will perform works by Maurice Ravel and Frederic Chopin as part of the Great Artists Series at Washington University in St. Louis. Sponsored by the Department of Music in Arts & Sciences, the series hosts intimate recitals with some of the brightest stars in contemporary classical music. Cho’s performance also serves as the department’s annual Carlin Event.

The program will begin with Ravel’s “Pavane pour une Infante défunte” (“Pavane for a Dead Princess”). Inspired by the ceremonial Renaissance dance, the piece was written in 1889, while Ravel was a student at the Paris Conservatoire, and became one of his earliest popular successes. Next will be Ravel’s “Gaspard de la Nuit” (1908), a famously challenging work based on three poems from the collection by Aloysius Bertrand.

The remainder of the program will consist of Chopin’s four Scherzos for solo piano. Italian for “joke,” scherzos were typically light, playful sections within larger sonatas or symphonies. But Chopin, following Beethoven’s lead, radically reconceived the form. Composed between 1831 and 1843, Chopin’s scherzos are inventive, mercurial and technically demanding, filled with drama, melancholy and sudden emotional contrasts.

The performance will take place in WashU’s E. Desmond Lee Concert Hall, in the 560 Music Center, 560 Trinity Ave., at the intersection with Delmar Boulevard.

Seong-Jin Cho (Photo: Harald Hoffmann)

Seong-Jin Cho

Born in 1994 in Seoul, Cho began learning piano at age 6 and, in 2009, became the youngest-ever winner of Japan’s Hamamatsu International Piano Competition. After winning the Chopin International Competition in Warsaw, in 2015, he recorded Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with the London Symphony Orchestra for Deutsche Grammophon. This was quickly followed by collections of Debussy and Mozart. His latest album, released in 2020, features Schubert’s “Wanderer” Fantasy, Berg’s Piano Sonata op. 1 and Liszt’s Piano Sonata in B minor. Highlights of the 2021-22 season include performances with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchester, the New York Philharmonic and the Orchestre National de France. Read more here.

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