Seong-Jin Cho / Yannick Nézet-Séguin / Chamber Orchestra of Europe

Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 20 K.466; Sonatas K.281 & K.332

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Korean pianist Seong-Jin Cho skyrocketed to prominence with his 2015 win at the Chopin International Festival in Warsaw and subsequent signing to the Deutsche Grammophon label. He has mostly played Romantic music, but here he turns to Mozart, and a certain restless, impetuous quality is intact. He has ideal support from conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin, leading the Chamber Orchestra of Europe in the Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor, K. 466. Sample from the beginning: Nézet-Séguin delineates the syncopations of Mozart's opening material in an unusual punchy way, setting up Cho's reflective solos for maximum contrast. The effect is Beethovenian, and Cho plays Beethoven's cadenzas to fine effect, but it's all done without a lot of timpani pounding and heavy brasses. In the slow movement, Cho applies a substantial amount of ornamentation from the start; opinions differ about this, but the way it's done here tends to obscure the development of the material. Cho has a certain star quality; in the two piano sonatas that close the program, he is fast and edgy, and although you might disagree with his interpretations, he has the chops to make you listen. A recommended step in the development of a major new talent.

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