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Emerging pianist, lifelong Bach specialist and more set to visit Korea this year

Sept. 21, 2022 - 18:19 By Park Ga-young

Evgeni Koroliov, Alim Beisembayev, Andras Schiff, Francois-Frederic Guy, Igor Levit and Eric Lu. These are pianists who are set to perform in South Korea later this year, offering a wide-ranging repertoire by Bach, Beethoven and Chopin, among others.

Evgeni Koroliov (Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra)

Russian pianist Evgeni Koroliov, known as a specialist in the Bach keyboard repertoire, will take the stage with the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra on Friday for an all-Bach concert. The program consists of Bach Concerto for 3 Harpsichords in D minor, BWV 1063, Harpsichord Concerto No. 5 in F minor, BWV 1056, Concerto for 2 Harpsichords in C minor, BWV 1060, Concerto for 2 Harpsichords in C minor, BWV 1062, Harpsichord Concerto No. 7 in G minor, BWV 1058, and Concerto for 3 Harpsichords in C major, BWV 1064.

The 72-year-old pianist visited South Korea for the first time in 2017 and this will be his second visit. Koroliov and the SPO will bring the same program to Art Center Incheon the next day. Before leaving South Korea, he will perform Bach’s Goldberg Variations, BWV 988, which consists of an aria and a set of 30 variations, for his recital scheduled for Sept. 27 at Art Center Incheon.

Ticket prices for the three concerts range from 10,000 won to 80,000 won.

Alim Beisembayev (WCN)

Alim Beisembayev, who won first prize at the Leeds International Piano Competition in September 2021, is set to tour four cities in South Korea from Sunday to Oct. 2. He will perform at Sejong Arts Center on Sunday, KAIST Auditorium in Daejeon on Tuesday, Seoul Arts Center on Sept. 29 and Tongyeong Concert Hall on Oct. 2. The program will consist of Haydn Variations in F minor, Chopin Sonata No. 2 and Liszt 12 Etudes d’execution transcendantes S.139. His recital is part of the Steinway Prize Winner Concert, which was launched in 2007 by Steinway & Sons to introduce audiences to young musicians who have been specially selected and highly recommended by Steinway at an early stage in their careers.

Beisembayev, who was born in Kazakhstan in 1998, was taught by Tessa Nicholson at the Purcell School and continued his studies with her at the Royal Academy of Music in the UK. He is currently completing his master’s degree at the Royal College of Music with Vanessa Latarche.

Tickets are available for 30,000 won and 50,000 won.

Andras Schiff (Mast Media)

Andras Schiff, 68, a Hungarian-born Austro-British classical pianist, is returning to South Korea after four years. The program has not been disclosed yet at the request of the pianist but his selection will be among music by Bach, Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, according to Mast Media, the organizer of the recitals.

Schiff’s first recital will take place in Seoul at 5 p.m. on Nov. 6 at Lotte Concert Hall and then at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 10 at Busan Cultural Center. Ticket prices range from 50,000 won to 150,000 won.

Francois-Frederic Guy (Kumho Art Hall)

French pianist Francois-Frederic Guy will bring two all-Beethoven programs to Kumho Art Hall in Seoul in November, which were originally scheduled for 2020. The program on Nov. 9 consists of Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp minor, “Quasi Una Fantasia,” Op. 27, No. 2, Sonata No. 12 in A-flat Major, "Funeral March," Op. 26, Sonata No. 25 in G Major, "Cuckoo," Op. 29 and Piano Sonata No. 28 in A major, Op. 101.

On Nov. 10, the 53-year-old pianist will perform Piano Sonata No. 27 in E minor, Piano Sonata No. 30 in E Major, Op. 109, Piano Sonata No. 31 in A-flat Major, Op. 110 and Piano Sonata No. 32 in C minor, Op. 111. Guy has been playing all 32 Beethoven sonatas at Kumho Art Hall since 2017. Tickets are 60,000 won each.

Igor Levit (Vincero)

Just less than a week after Guy’s Beethoven performances, Korean classical fans will have another chance to enjoy other Beethoven piano sonatas at Igor Levit’s recitals.

Levit, a 35-year-old Russian-German pianist, will visit South Korea in November after his original 2020 engagement was pushed back due to COVID-19. His Korea debut was in 2017 when he performed with the Bavarian State Orchestra led by Kirill Petrenko.

For his two recitals set for Nov. 15 at Seoul Arts Center and Nov. 16 at Daegu Concert House, Levit will play four Beethoven pieces -- Piano Sonata No. 17 in D Minor Op. 31-2 "The Tempest," Piano Sonata No. 8 in C Minor, Op. 13 "Pathetique," Piano Sonata No. 25 in G Major, Op. 79 and Piano Sonata No. 21 in C Major, Op. 53, "Waldstein."

Both recitals begin at 7:30 p.m. His 2019 album, "Complete Beethoven Piano Sonatas," won him Gramophone's 2020 artist of the year and the Instrumental Award. Tickets are available at 20,000 won to 130,000 won.

Eric Lu (Mast Media)

On Dec. 6, Eric Lu, who won first prize at the Leeds International Piano Competition in 2018, will put on a recital at Seoul Arts Center.

In 2015, then-17-year-old Lu was the youngest participant in the International Chopin Piano Competition when Korean pianist Cho Seong-jin won the first prize. Lu is also the recipient of the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant, given to up to five outstanding instrumentalists each year. Previous recipients include Sarah Chang, Hillary Hahn, Joshua Bell and Yuja Wang, among many others.

For the upcoming one-time-only recital, the 24-year-old American pianist will perform Chopin’s Nocturne in C minor, Op. 48 No. 1, Polonaise in C sharp minor, Op. 26 No. 1, Waltz in D flat major, Op. 70 No. 3, Waltz in C Sharp minor, Op. 64 No. 2 and Scriabin’s Sonata No. 3 in F Sharp minor, Op. 23. After the intermission, he will wrap up the recital with Schubert’s Sonata No. 20 in A major, D. 959. Ticket prices range from 30,000 won to 70,000 won.