Tablet - Portrait

Tablet - Landscape


WGBH Radio WGBH Radio

Beethoven: Sonatas Op. 10 No. 2, Op. 31 No. 3, Op. 57 / Young-ah Tak

Release Date: 11/01/2019
Label: Steinway & Sons Catalog #: 30106
Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven Performer:  Young-Ah Tak Number of Discs: 1

Steinway & Sons begins their celebration of the Beethoven anniversary year with a new recording from the thrilling Korean pianist Young-Ah Tak, an artist who was born to play this music. These recordings, recorded at Steinway Hall in New York, were immediately recognized as definitive recordings to serve in the essential series of Steinway Classics.

Album Credits:
Recorded 2016 – 2019 at Steinway Hall, New York City.
Producer: Jon Feidner
Engineer: Lauren Sclafani
Assistant Engineer: Melody Nieun Hwang
Editing: Jon Feidner and Renée Oakford
Production Assistant: Renée Oakford
Mixing and Mastering: Daniel Shores

Executive Producers:
Read more Eric Feidner, Jon Feidner
Art Direction: Jackie Fugere
Piano Technician: Lauren Sclafani
Piano: Steinway Model D #597590 (New York)

Since we’re coming up on Beethoven’s 250th birthday, we can expect a bumper crop of new recordings of familiar material from his vast corpus of compositions. This set of three piano sonatas (nos. 6, 18, and 23 “Appassionata”) plus the opus 51 Rondo in C major, is performed by the brilliant young pianist Young-Ah Tak, and the program order reflects the effort and care she has put into approaching this repertoire. It opens with the charming Rondo, and then moves with increasing intensity from the relatively simple and straightforward 6th to the darker and more contemplative 18th, and then to the celebrated, much-recorded, and supremely challenging 23rd. Tak plays with supreme confidence but never virtuosic arrogance, approaching these monumental works with both authority and humility. Recommended to all classical collections.

-- CDHot List

With his 250th birthday approaching, the popularity of Ludwig van Beethoven continues unabated for classical music audiences and performers alike. Captured here in her debut recording for the Steinway label, South Korean-born, now America-residing pianist, educator (on the faculty at SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music) and academic, Young-Ah Tak, performs the late composer’s piano sonatas with a deft touch, a stylistically appropriate grand Romantic gesture and a level of familiarity with LvB’s work that is unsurprising, given the fact that her first solo recital, at age nine no less, included some of the very pieces captured here.

Recorded at New York City’s Steinway Hall, this CD has an appropriately intimate quality to it and, as such, the engaged listener can identify, and, perhaps, even relate to the artistic struggle that occurs when an ambitious and deservedly feted pianist takes on a repertoire of well-trodden (and perhaps overly familiar) material – think Sonata No.23 in F Minor, “Appassionata” – yet desires to reify the expectations of an audience who demand that she make this material her own. Not an easy task, to be sure, but in Tak’s capable hands, new and effervescent subtleties of this music are introduced, exposed and played with to the satisfaction of both the performer and audience (and one would hope composer too). Nowhere is this more evident than in Tak’s dramatic interpretation of the clarion call “The Hunt,” (Piano Sonata No.18 in E-flat Major, Op.31, No.3). A recommended addition for piano enthusiasts and LvB collectors alike.

-- Andrew Scott, The Whole Note

...Beethoven’s sonatas are sure to receive numerous performances and recordings throughout the 250th-anniversary year, and the high quality of the new Steinway & Sons one featuring Young-Ah Tak will likely be found in other releases as well. But the Beethoven sonatas admit of so many interpretations that fine playing is not the first thing one notices about any given release. It is the underlying approach to the material that stands out – which in Tak’s case is reflected in a light touch that places most of the sonatas she plays on this CD firmly in the orbit of Mozart, if not Haydn. Piano Sonata No. 6, Op. 10, No. 2, an early and less-often-heard work, is a real gem here, light and bright and beautifully balanced throughout. It juxtaposes nicely with the Rondo in C, Op. 51, No. 1, which is quite an early piece despite its misleading opus number. Tak plays both the sonata and the rondo with relaxed charm and very smooth flow, never pushing the works beyond their modest boundaries but letting them emerge with charm and a fine sense of tastefulness. The slightly later, four-movement Sonata No. 18, Op. 31, No. 3 also gets a highly commendable reading. It is an interestingly structured work without a designated slow movement – instead, the third movement, Menuetto (Moderato e grazioso) fills that role, contrasting with the second movement, Scherzo (Allegretto vivace). Having both a minuet and a scherzo in the same work is rare, and Beethoven’s contrasting use of the two movements is quite unusual. Tak does a fine job showcasing their differences and their centrality to the overall structure and argument of the sonata... Tak’s technical prowess is undoubted, as is the thoughtfulness of her playing, so this disc is a worthwhile addition to the considerable library of Beethoven sonata recordings...

Read less