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Taek Gi Lee playing Rachmaninov’s 3rd Piano Concerto in 2014 Photograph: John Cole

Taek addresses the power of the music

Taek Gi Lee was the winner of the 2014 Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition and gave a highly demanding recital last Friday, writes HOT music correspondent Dr Brian Hick.

He was playing in a studio with wood panelling which gave us one of the best acoustics we have had so far this series. Only two works, but as he said in his brief introduction, both were revolutionary in their own way and technically exceptionally demanding.

He opened with Rachmaninoff’s Etude Op39, No3 in F♯ minor, a highly complex work with an intense, aggressive impact across its surprisingly short span. Taek Gi Lee appeared unfazed by its complexity or the need to communicate its many changes of mood within so tight a frame.

The only other work was the more substantial Piano Sonata No7 by Prokofiev. The second of three War Sonatas, it reflects the composer’s on-going difficulties living under Stalin and there is a sense in which the high level of aggression within the work reflects this conflict. It was first performed on 18 January 1943 in Moscow by Sviatoslav Richter and there is an irony in the fact that it received a Stalin Prize.

The opening movement is in five sections which oscillate between fiercely aggressive hammering bass lines and more sinister slow passages, before an equally fierce, if brief, coda. The second movement appears to be more relaxed and even lyrical but there is an underlying tension throughout which explodes once more in the final movement; this, if more extrovert, is none the less painful.

All of this Taek Gi Lee explores with consummate ease and finesse, despite the power of the writing. A fine, if highly demanding, session.

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Posted 07:33 Tuesday, Jun 23, 2020 In: Music & Sound

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