Chopin: Preludes, Op 28; Nocturne in C minor, Op 48 No 1; Piano Sonata No 2 in B flat minor, Op 35; Polonaise in A flat major, Op 53

Reviewed on Fri 25 Mar, 2016

There’s a fearless brilliance here that reminds me of Artur Rubinstein’s Chopin recordings, especially in the Second Sonata; Seong-Jin Cho’s performance is the most beautiful and most intelligent rendition of this work I’ve heard on records in several years.

This live recording, by the winner of the 17th International Chopin Competition in Warsaw last year, reveals a young pianist with splendid technique and fine sensitivity to the full spectrum of Chopin’s imagination. There’s a fearless brilliance here that reminds me of Artur Rubinstein’s Chopin recordings, especially in the “Funeral March” Sonata; Cho’s performance is the most beautiful and most intelligent rendition of this work (which Schumann described as “four of [Chopin’s] maddest children”) I’ve heard on records in several years. Cho’s playing is marked by particularly warm sound without being overbearing; he does have an occasional tendency to lead the right hand with the left, a nineteenth-century pianistic mannerism that one hopes he will outgrow. A 21-year-old Korean who has already toured widely around the world, Seong-Jin Cho has a fine career ahead of him; this handsome disc is more than promising.
–Mark DeVoto