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Sneak peeks of pianist Lim Yunchan's debut album on Decca heighten expectations

Pianist to embark on nationwide tour in June

Feb. 25, 2024 - 16:50 By Park Ga-young

A limited edition fan pack of Lim Yunchan's first Decca album "Chopin Etudes" (Universal Music Group)

When pianist Lim Yunchan, the youngest winner ever to win the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, attended the press conference for Apple Music Classical on Jan. 29, he performed three of Chopin Etudes: Op. 25, No. 1 “Aeolian Harp;” Op. 10, No. 5 “Black Keys;” and Op. 25, No. 11 "Winter Wind."

For his playlist exclusively unveiled on the Apple Music Classical app, the 19-year-old pianist featured Chopin 12 Etudes by Ignaz Friedman among other artists he said inspired him, including Dinu Lipatti performing Schubert and early jazz pianist Art Tatum's rendering of Dvorak’s "Humoresques." Lim's list, titled "The Golden Age of Piano," also contains Russian-British pianist Mark Hambourg’s Chopin’s Nocturne No. 2 in E-Flat and another Soviet-era pianist, Youri Egorov.

When he made his debut at Carnegie Hall, Manhattan on Wednesday, he performed all of Chopin’s 27 etudes. The debut performance was a success: as the ovation continued, he returned to the stage for four encores.

It turned out all these were sneak peeks, which heighten expectation for his upcoming Decca debut album, "Yunchan Lim: Chopin Etudes," to be released on April 19.

Several hours before his Carnegie Hall performance, the Decca Classical label unveiled Chopin’s Op. 10 No. 3, "Tristesse," a single that is a preview of Lim's first Decca album, which will include a total of 24 tracks. The pianist signed an exclusive recording deal with Decca in October last year.

“Pianists like Alfred Cortot, Ignaz Friedman, Joseph Lhevinne, Mark Hambourg, and Sergio Fiorentino, who are like a vast universe to me, have performed Chopin's Etudes. Since childhood, I have wanted to become a musician with fundamentals like them,” Lim was quoted as saying in a statement released by Universal Music Group, Decca's parent company. “That's why I chose Chopin's Etudes, with a desire to follow their roots,” he added.

"Chopin's Etudes contain various emotions such as the groans of the earth, the regrets of old age, love letters, longing, melancholy and freedom. Even during the times when I didn't practice the Etudes, their melodies continued to deepen in my heart. Therefore, recording and releasing Chopin's Etudes with the Decca label is a great honor,” Lim explained.

Lim's debut album with Decca pays homage to the golden age of Decca pianists in the 1960s, according to Universal Music. It uses film-shot photographs and the logo that was commonly used on Decca vinyl at the time.

Decca Classics will offer two versions of the first album by the fast-rising pianist: a limited and exclusive edition fan pack, available exclusively at Universal Music Group stores — already sold out in Korea — and a regular edition.

Lim Yun-chan (Universal Music Group)

After the album release, Lim will embark on a nationwide recital tour in June to perform Chopin’s Etudes. His tour will kick off at Lotte Concert Hall in Seoul on June 7 and be followed by performances in Cheonan, South Chungcheong Province, on June 9, Daegu on June 12, Tongyeong, South Gyeongsang Province on June 15, Bucheon, Gyeonggi Province on June 19, Gwangju on June 19. On June 22, he will return to the capital for the final performance of his recital tour at Seoul Arts Center.