Pianist Young-Ah Tak


Concert Review: International Piano Korea (April 2009)
By Kim In-il (Professor emeritus at Pusan National University’s School of Music)

Young-Ah Tak, Piano Recital at 5th Busan Music Festival’s Rising Star Recital Series

February 15, 2009, Busan Cultural Center Medium

The first time I heard Young-Ah Tak was in 2005, at the Isang Yun International Piano Competition in Tongyeong.  She performed Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54, and I felt it was a very serious, dignified and sensitive performance, unlike many generic performances of the piece we hear.
Young-Ah Tak is becoming very well known in the music scene in Korea with her many performances and recitals throughout the country.

Especially chosen for the Rising Star Recital Series of the annual Busan International Music Festival, Young-Ah Tak greeted the audience with the sophisticated manner and the serious music making of an established performer. The repertoire she presented at the concert hall of the Busan Cultural Center on February 15 started with Franz Joseph Haydn from the classical period and included pieces from the romantic period, such as Johannes Brahms, Frédéric Chopin and Franz Liszt.  She also included a contemporary piano piece by Judith Zaimont, creating an intellectual and respected program.

During her performance of Haydn’s sonata in C Major, Hob. XVI: 50, Tak expressed the characteristics of Haydn very well through clear and elegant expressions. She appeared to pursue a balanced and controlled performance instead of a lively and bouncy vigor.

Tak handled the dignified and yet somewhat unnaturally placed notes in Brahms’ challenging Sonata No. 2 in F-sharp Minor extremely well, and the lyrical expression in the second movement especially stood out. The last movement seemed to place the importance on a stable and accurate performance rather than swirling passion.  Tak appeared to have read the deep intentions of Brahms very well.

Her performance of Chopin’s Polonaise-Fantasie Op. 61 produced a beautiful sound, and the perfect interpretation of the piece gave the audience great lyrical inspiration.  It was especially impressive to see how well she managed to maintain a vivid line of continuous melody at the end of the piece, where the melody and accompaniment appear simultaneously.

In Judith Zaimont’s “Wizards,” despite the fact that it is a difficult contemporary piece, Tak pursued an appropriate, clear interpretation and expression so that the audience could approach it rather easily.

Liszt’s Sonetto 104 del Petrarca and Giuseppe Verdi’s Rigoletto Paraphrase were qualified more than enough to decorate the finale.  They contained powerful, diverse techniques, and Tak appeared to savor the poetic and lyrical moments in the middle as well. The brilliant techniques did not only lean extrovertly for the Rigoletto Paraphrase, but came across as a beauty wrapped in warmth and control. 

The performance was more than enough to give us anticipation for Tak to become the maestro of the music scene.  One could feel the music in its essence throughout her performance, and it was sincere and unpretentious rather than overly ostentatious.