Pianist Young-Ah Tak


CD Review: Daring and Mastery

Pianist Young-Ah Tak - heard by BILL NEWMAN
"... this CD is worth its weight in gold."

Young-Ah Tak

By Bill Newman
August 23, 2012

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Korean pianist Young-Ah Tak has performed throughout the USA, Canada, Europe, Korea and Japan at the major concert halls like Alice Tully, Kennedy Centre, Ravinia Festival, the Myra Festival Recital Series in Chicago, and many others. In chamber music, her most notable teachers were Robert Mann and Bonnie Hampton.

An incomparable technique and musicianship is shown here in the music of Haydn, Schumann, Liszt and the American composer of Russian extraction, Leon Kirchner.

Beginning with Haydn's Piano Sonata No 60 in C major, Hoboken XVI 50, a customarily witty and original work in two Allegro outside movements with an Adagio in between, she has clear-headed insight into the master's brilliant bravura writing, matched by eloquence in the central movement.

Schumann's Carnaval, with all repeats, challenges her staying power, which she has in abudance, at the expense of certain subtleties and a slight lack of tenderness in the shape of half tones, while Liszt's Petrarch Sonnet 104 from his Years of Pilgrimage and Concert Paraphrase of Verdi's Rigoletto both evoke richness of tone and a dashing bravura.

The most interesting and rewarding of her recordings is the Sonata No 1, dating from 1948, by Leon Kirchner, a contemporary of Aaron Copland and William Schuman. This is a work of tensile strength that throws caution to the winds in passages of tightly knit daring couched in an original spate of risk and vehemence. This is a tremendous piece played with great daring and mastery.

From its initial Lento first movement, the central Adagio has a morose quality that typifies the unsettling feelings of a composer disturbed by the aftermath of World War II and the desolation left behind by adversaries who lived through the terrors of turmoil. On that score alone, this CD is worth its weight in gold.