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Reviews

Wholenote, May, 2010
by Janos Gardonyi

Saint-Saëns – Piano Transcriptions
Lucille Chung
XXI XXI-CD2 1682

The late Arthur Fiedler once said: “there are only two kinds of music:
The good and the boring kind.” Well, Saint Saëns may not be the
greatest composer or even one of the greatest, but he certainly never
wrote boring music. And he couldn’t have picked a better performer of
his piano music than the young, immensely talented Montreal-born
virtuoso, Lucille Chung. Since 1989, when only 10 years old, she has
built an impressive career with the world’s leading orchestras and
performed in over 30 countries. Her playing has self assured attack,
virtuosity, romantic abandon and a sense of youthful exuberance, but
there is still room for more subtlety.

She hasn’t recorded much as yet and this unorthodox disc proves
that she is not afraid of taking chances. My first approach was
sceptical. What would the 2nd Piano Concerto sound like on solo piano?
One of the most impressive openings in the piano concerto literature is
the impassioned solo cadenza that develops into a breathtaking crescendo
leading up to the ff entry of the orchestra, a big moment indeed, which
cannot be duplicated by piano solo, but this problem notwithstanding
the 1st movement takes shape almost like the original. As she proceeds,
the Mendelssohnian scherzo is fluttering like a butterfly over a field
of flowers and the rumba-like middle section seductively swings with no
effort at all. She has the time of her life, totally relaxed and happy.

The works that follow, except for the ubiquitous Bacchanale, are
mostly piano/orchestra pieces transcribed for piano solo by the
composer, who was a tremendous pianist in his own right. An interesting
curiosity is Africa with its exotic and oriental atmosphere, ending with
the Tunisian national anthem carried off triumphantly by our pianist.
-Janos Gardonyi

La Presse, May 15, 2010
by Claude Gingras

Chung: un tour de force

On avait un peu oublié Lucille Chung, pianiste montréalaise qui fut
l’une des lauréates de notre ancien Concours international et qui vit
maintenant au Texas où elle enseigne.

Lucille Chung, qui a maintenant 30 ans (ou environ), a signé chez
Disques XXI un programme consacré à Camille Saint-Saëns qui est un
véritable tour de force. Réalisé en 2008 sous la direction du regretté
Pierre Dionne, le disque vient de paraître.

La pièce de résistance en est le deuxième Concerto, en sol mineur,
op. 22, dans l’étonnante réduction pour piano seul de Bizet. Très
rarement jouée et très rarement enregistrée, cette transcription est
d’une effroyable difficulté car elle reprend presque inchangée la partie
de piano et y incorpore la partie d’orchestre.

Lucille Chung traverse la partition avec une virtuosité et une
puissance très impressionnantes. Quelques passages où une certaine
difficulté est évidente ne diminuent en rien l’immense plaisir que
procure cette exécution où nuance et subtilité ont aussi leur place.

La pianiste joue également des réductions pour piano seul de deux
oeuvres écrites à l’origine pour piano et orchestre, Wedding-Cake et
Africa, qu’elle avait jouées avec Dutoit et l’OSM en 1996. Des pièces
originales, elle restitue, respectivement, l’humour et l’exotisme, comme
elle anime d’un véritable mouvement de danse la Bacchanale de Samson et
Dalila, le plus célèbre opéra de Saint-Saëns.

Le programme comprend aussi la Bourrée de la première Partita pour
violon seul de Bach, BWV 1002, que Saint-Saëns transforme en véritable
pièce pour clavier. Seule page jouée ici dans sa version originale, la
Romance sans paroles n’ajoute rien à l’intérêt du disque.

Cote: ****

SAINT-SAËNS: LUCILLE CHUNG, PIANISTE.

DISQUES XXI, CD 2-1682

Cyberpresse.ca

Straight.com, August 17, 2009
by Alexander Varty

Pianist Lucille Chung showcases The Power of Ligeti

Featuring pianist Lucille Chung. A href="http://www.straight.com/article-244385/piano-series-spans-romantic-and-frantic"
target="_blank">MusicFest Vancouver presentation. At Christ Church
Cathedral on Friday, August 14. No remaining performances

As an introduction to the music of György Ligeti—one of the greatest
composers of the 20th century, yet one who remains an enigma to most
21st-century audiences—Lucille Chung’s afternoon showcase could not have
been better. Although the Hungarian master, who died in 2006, wrote
significant pieces for orchestra, choir, and string quartet, his very
personal sense of sonic architecture is most clearly expressed on the
piano, and Chung’s program allowed her listeners to hear his progress in
a way that thoroughly illuminated his thorny and often dissonant texts.

The Montreal-born keyboardist opened with Capriccios No. 1 and No. 2,
written in 1947 and ‘48, when Ligeti was in his mid 20s and,
presumably, suffering from the aftershock of the Second World War. (A
Hungarian Jew, he served in a forced-labour brigade; his father and
other relatives died in Auschwitz.) The effect here, though, is not one
of horror or mourning. Instead, these pieces feel liberated, almost
joyous—even if they’re not terribly distinctive. They sound exactly like
what they are: works written by a young composer who’s less concerned
with emotional weight than with discovering how many dazzling shapes he
can craft.

From there, Chung moved on to Musica Ricercata, written between 1951
and 1953. In this sprawling work’s 11 brief movements, we hear Ligeti
refining his compositional language, sometimes weighing each of its
constituent parts with an alchemist’s care. The opening “Sostenuto”, for
instance, is all about simplicity and space: it consists of a single
note, A, played in various octave combinations until, close to the end,
the note D enters. However dry and unpromising this might sound, Chung
made the piano sing—a tribute to her skill, but also to the composer’s
musical elegance.

Following “Sostenuto”, a note is added to each successive study,
until in Musica Ricercata’s concluding “Andante misurato e tranquillo”,
dedicated to the baroque composer Girolamo Frescobaldi, Ligeti is
working with the full 12-tone spectrum. This makes the suite as a whole
build in momentum and sonic intricacy, which in turn launched Chung
quite nicely into six selections from Ligeti’s 18-piece keyboard bible,
Etudes pour piano, Books 1, 2, and 3. Penned between 1985 and 2001,
these ranged from the African-inspired “Fém” to the whirling wheel of
perpetual motion that is “L’escalier du diable”, and Chung aced them
all.

The next time the pianist returns, though, it would be good to hear
her in a more suitable venue. Christ Church Cathedral is a gorgeous
building, but it’s impossible to soundproof stained glass, and so the
outside world intruded a bit too much on this weekday-afternoon concert.
That’s a small complaint, however, about what was otherwise a
near-flawless performance of fascinating music.

New York Times,
August 12, 2008 by Vivien Schweitzer

“The program included a sparkling rendition of Poulenc’s “Histoire de
Babar,” given a colorful performance by the pianist Lucille Chung and
narrated by Michael York, and John Alden Carpenter’s jazzy, bluesy
“Krazy Kat.” ”


Star-Telegram, Fort Worth, Texas, January 13, 2007


DUOS AND ACES

Pairings make for an enjoyable evening of music at Bass Hall

FORT WORTH — Good things come in pairs. That seemed to be the
overriding theme of Friday evening’s Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra
concert at Bass Hall.

Dallas-based piano duo (and married couple) Alessio Bax and Lucille
Chung were the talented soloists in Mozart’s Concerto for Two Pianos, K.
365. The orchestra and its music director, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, also
made a strong statement with two symphonic works by Robert Schumann.

Mozart’s 250th birth anniversary was last year, but there’s always
room for Mozart, even with a less familiar concerto such as this one. In
the regal key of E-flat, the concerto introduced an element of theater
as Bax and Chung traded licks and the orchestra played backup.

Pianists of great sensitivity, Bax and Chung are equally matched in
virtuosity and temperament — a fact that became abundantly clear in the
first movement’s playful cadenza. Although the intensity of the
music-making seldom registered above room temperature, the pair
compensated with a scintillating encore, an excerpt from Saint-Saens’
Carnival of the Animals.

Standing as bookends in Friday’s concert were Schumann’s early
Overture, Scherzo and Finale, Op. 52, and the Symphony No. 4 in D minor,
Op. 120. The German composer’s symphonic works often lie in the shadow
of his towering piano pieces. But the orchestra made a compelling
argument for these structurally original, often idiosyncratic works.

The three-movement Overture, Scherzo and Finale radiated a breezy
joy. The Fourth Symphony, with its unconventional orchestration, held
the audience’s interest. Both featured the orchestra players in top
form.

Blue Cathedral, by contemporary American composer Jennifer Higdon,
completed Friday’s program. The 12-minute piece has appeared on many
orchestras’ programs. But why? Aside from its novel orchestration
(including Chinese health reflex balls and tuned water goblets) its
neo-Romantic, Coplandesque harmonic language is highly derivative. In
the end, it’s the emotional equivalent of milquetoast.

Fort Worth Symphony

8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday

Bass Hall

Fort Worth

$15-$76

817-665-6000, www.fwsymphony.org

GRADE: A-

Matthew Erikson


Bari Sera, Bari, Italy, June 9, 2006


Bax e la Chung, piano con sentimento

[…] ad aprire, una bravissima Lucille Chung, che quasi mordeva i
tasti del pianoforte, ma a tratti sembrava muovere le dita come in una
danza, con un movimento lieve ma deciso nei suoni. La sua
interpretazione dei brani di Ligeti, ottimo compositore, e’ stata
perfetta. Il pubblico e’ stato conquistato da tanta maestria nel
proporre una musica mai sentita nel nostro territorio: per la prima
volta in una rassegna vengono eseguite le opere del compositore
ungherese. La Chung, la canadese orientale, e’ stata acclamata per le
sue appassionate e raffinate interpretazioni, unendo energia e agilità
con naturale eloquenza ed eleganza. Un tripudio di applausi ha
accompagnato la sua uscita di scena, ma Lucille Chung non ha voluto
risparmiarsi, dando ancora prova della sua bravura chiudendo la sua
esecuzione con un bis […] regalando grandi emozioni in musica,
lasciando a tutti un ricordo esaltante in una calda serata di giugno.
Un ricordo immortale, come la musica ascoltata.

Mario Pontieri


Corriere del Mezzogiorno, Bari, Italy, June 2, 2006

Il bel concerto chiude “Pianoforum”

Bax e Chung al pianoforte in equilibrio fra tecnica e interpretazione
emozionante.

La rassegna Pianoforum curata da Emanuele Arciuli per la stagione
2005-2006 della Fondazione Petruzzelli si e’ conclusa mercoledì sera in
Vallisa con un trionfale successo. Protagonisti due ex enfant prodige
della musica, diventati oggi, a pieno titolo pianisti affermati e
apprezzati in tutto il mondo. Stiamo parlando del barese Alessio Bax
(non suonava nella sua città da una decina d’anni) e della canadese
Lucille Chung. I due si sono di recente sposati e risiedono negli Stati
Uniti, a Dallas, dove sono legati da un fruttuoso sodalizio, oltre che
sentimentale, anche artistico. Mercoledì sera si sono divisi il
concerto a meta. Lucille ha suonato un’antologia di Studi per
pianoforte del compositore ungherese (naturalizzato austriaco) Gyorgy
Ligeti, tra i massimi esponenti viventi della neoavanguardia; […] La
Chung ha saputo regalare emozioni forti, di più, autentiche vertigini
del cuore. E’ facile oggi trovare pianisti tecnicamente dotati.[…] Ciò
de invece stupisce [nella Chung] e’ il superamento dello scoglio
tecnico, vissuto sempre con disarmante naturalezza, per approdare alle
profondità piu recondite dei capolavori eseguiti. […] Un concerto
davvero memorabile

Alessandro Romanelli

La Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno,
Bari, Italy, June 2, 2006

Al “Pianoforum” con Lucille Chung

Significativo, comunque, pur se non fondato su legami analogici,
l’accostamento con i brani di Ligeti, che hanno aperto la serata,
affidati alle eccezionali mani ed al vibrante temperamento della moglie
di Bax, Lucille Chung.

Si parla spesso di momenti nodali nella storia della letteratura
pianistica. Dopo Chopin, che apri al pianoforte nuove prospettive, si
dovette attendere l’avvento di Debussy, perché aria realmente nuova
spirasse nel genere. E Ligeti e senza dubbio l’ulteriore, moderno
pilastro sul quale può consistentemente poggiare il lungo, glorioso e
mai esausto cammino evolutivo della scrittura pianistica.

Non meno rare le esecuzioni della musica pianistica di Ligeti da
noi, ma, nel ricordo, sicuramente scolpite in maniera decisa. Con le
straordinarie esecuzioni della Chung, si e avuta un’ulteriore
possibilità di ascoltare esemplare musica del nostro tempo, porta con
autorevole e sincera capacita.

Non meno la calorosa l’accoglienza che il pubblico ha riservato alla
Chung che -val la pena sottolinearlo- ha incluso fra i brani
presentati, tutti “studi” alcuni che per Bari erano une “novità”!

Un bis con la Chung, che ha inteso donare al pubblico una sognante e
delicata interpresentazione di un Preludio di Scriabin.

Nicola Sbisa

La Repubblica, Italy.
June 24, 2005

Ricordi di Ligeti al Pianoforte

Lucille Chung, la pianista canadese che aveva già inciso un primo
disco Dynamic con le opere pianistiche di György Ligeti (Studi secondo
libro, Capriccio 1 e 2, Inventino e Musica Ricercata), completa la
registrazione delle opere di ligeti con un secondo disco dove, oltre al
primo e terzo di Studi (quest’ultimo terminato nel 2004), ci sono
anche i 3 pezzi per due pianoforti e i 5 pezzi per pianoforte a quattro
mani. Lei, ex enfante prodige, pochi anni fa, ha sposato un altro ex
enfant prodige, il barese Alessio Bax. Insieme vivono a Dallas dove lui
è tra gli insegnanti della Methodist University, e insieme hanno
registrato questo importante disco che ha un doppio pregio: ribadire,
per quanto sia ancora necessario, la grandezza del compositore vivente
oggi più venerato (e non solo per gli 82 anni di età spesi con intatto
rigore artistico e morale), e intanto offrire un’esecuzione avvincente
di due raccolte di pezzi pianistici che sono una retrospettiva in
miniatura dello stile ligetiano. I 5 pezzi per pianoforte a quattro
mani (inclusa è una mini sonatine in tre tempi di appena 4 minuti del
1950) sono lo specchio del folklore magiaro degli anni giovanili,
quando Ligeti viveva in un’Ungheria non ancora asservita al regime
comunista e i suoi modelli erano essenzialmente Bartok e Kodaly. I 3
pezzi per due pianoforti, del 1976, risentono appieno della svolta
elettronica. Le voci degli strumenti sono altrettante fasce sonore,
come quelle che il compositore aveva imparato a generare nello Studio
di Fonologia a Colonia. E l’effetto è di un apparente e fallace
immobiliare, perché increspato de invisibili venature che rendono
inquieta l’atmosfera. Tecnicamente i pezzi sono molto impegnativi, ma
la resa è ottima, soprattutto nel secondo dei tre, il cui titolo è
straniante come l’effetto sonoro: “Autoritratto con Reich e Riley (c’è
anche Chopin)”. Reich e Riley sono i campioni dell’incantare, Chopin è
evocato per i prodigi tecnici richiesti nel finale della Sonata no.2.

Fiorella Sassanelli

The Dallas Morning News.
September 8, 2005

CLASSICAL MUSIC REVIEW Two-piano recitals aren’t an everyday
occurrence around here. And few such programs anywhere are as lively as
the one presented Wednesday evening by Alessio Bax and Lucille Chung at
Southern Methodist University’s Caruth Auditorium.

Mr. Bax and Ms. Chung, who are married, have both studied with
Joaquín Achúcarro at SMU. First prize winner in the 2000 Leeds
Competition, Mr. Bax is now on the SMU piano faculty. Ms. Chung, a
Montreal native also trained at the Curtis Institute of Music and the
Juilliard School , has several competition prizes to her credit, too.

One of the best things you can say about a piano duo is “they play as
one,” and these two certainly did. They opened with quite a splash, the
late Polish composer Witold Lutoslawski’s two-piano Variations on a
Theme of Paganini. Based on the same violin Caprice as Rachmaninoff’s
famous Rhapsody, Lutoslawski’s 1941 work puts the theme through snazzy
glitters, sassy jabs and dreamy glidings, with more than a little
deviltry along the way.

Next up was Stravinsky’s original piano four-hands version of the
complete Petrushka (as opposed to the three movements he later
arranged for a single player). Given the brilliant colors of the
familiar orchestral score, you might expect a piano version to be a pale
reflection. But sometimes inner voices, rhythmic complexities and
gently battling tonalities actually emerge more clearly on the piano.

After intermission came two two-piano arrangements of tangos by
Argentinian composer Astor Piazzola, and a third was offered as an
encore. The razzle-dazzle finale of Darius Milhaud’s Scaramouche
was the second encore.

All this was played with great panache, the Petrushka scenes
vividly characterized. Ms. Chung got most of the treble parts, and she
set them glinting.

SCOTT CANTRELL

Ottawa Sun, Canada.
July 24, 2005

“This huge and eclectic program was one of the best opening gala
performances
I’ve seen recently… pianist Chung, who can play like fire looked lethal
in
a black evening dress.”

Denis Armstrong

La Stampa, Italy. July 29, 2005

“La giovane pianista canadese Lucille Chung, ben accompagnata
per i lavori a quattro mani e su due pianoforti da Alessio
Bax, propone ora un compact disc che segue il percorso
creativo dai primi lavori degli Anni Quaranta e Cinquanta
del Novecento fino ad un’ampia raccolta degli Studi, scritti
dal 1985 al 2001. Gli evidenti influssi – percussivi e
ritmici – di Béla Bartók sulle opere giovanili
aprono la strada ad un cammino più autonomo, anche
se sempre informato e molto divertito nell’orecchiare e
nel «testare» diverse tecniche e poetiche:
ecco il folklore magiaro, filtrato da uno sguardo surreale,
apparire nei ritrattini domestici delle «Tre danze
matrimoniali», mentre nell’«Autoritratto con
Steve Reich e Terry Riley (e c’è anche Chopin)» come
nello Studio intitolato «Disordine» il debito
minimalista è pagato con convinta ironia e in un’insistita
sfrenatezza che accelera fino al parossismo il gusto per
la ripetizione ciclica di una stessa frase.

I tre tempi della «Sonatina» raccontano di un’inventiva capace di
scorci fulminei, caricaturali, che tuttavia lasciano il dubbio della
gratuità.
Il Ligeti più personale è quello che appare oltre la maschera dei
travestimenti e delle citazioni, come in «Autunno a Varsavia», dedicato
agli «amici polacchi», chiuso da un repentino, drammatico protagonismo
del registro più grave; «A bout de souffle» – omaggio al film
di Godard – è davvero una corsa all’ultimo respiro, attraversata da
frequenti
asimmetrie che spezzano il ritmo, in un velocismo che culmina nelle note
più acute
prima di ricominciare dal basso, come risalendo da un precipizio.
Lucille Chung
ben restituisce i parossismi del maestro, gli scarti di peso sonoro, le
isole
di più meditato fraseggio, l’irriverenza che gli appartiene in sommo
grado.”

Sandro Cappelletto

San Francisco Chronicle,
Thursday,February 3, 2005

Pianist’s fancy finger work enlivens Ligeti etudes

The major work of composer György Ligeti’s later
years has been a brilliant series of piano etudes, virtuosic
showpieces that combine the models of Debussy and Chopin
with a range of contemporary references. They require a
pianist of rare stamina and technique, and Lucille Chung
is just such a pianist.

Chung’s renditions of seven of these pieces — three selections
from Book2 and all four of the components of Book 3 –
formed the dazzling and all-too-brief high point of an
otherwise hit-or-miss program presented Monday night by
the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players.

Chung has made a specialty of this repertoire — she’s
recorded all three books of the Etudes on the Dynamic label
– and her appearance at the Yerba Buena Center for the
Arts Forum was a bravura display of extroversion and sensitivity.

Like his predecessors, Ligeti uses the etude as a way
of exploring the relationship between technical means and
expressive ends. The pieces are enormously difficult to
play: in some cases because there are so many notes, in
others because there are so few.

Yet each etude uses its particular technical challenges
to create a distinctive world of mood and sonic imagery,
and Chung’s precise and crisply etched renditions conjured
up each one vividly.

She started with a bang, jumping right into the 10th etude, “Der
Zauberlehrling” (”The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”).
It’s an exercise infaster-than- light repeated notes (think
Balakirev’s “Islamey” on speed), in which melodic
figures loom up out of the blur, and Chung’s playing emitted
a jittery glow. “En Suspens,” a plangent jazz
ballad punctuated by aggressive two-note jabs, and the
ferocious melodic ascents of “L’escalier du diable” (”The
Devil’s Staircase”) completed the first set.

If the etudes of Book 2 are single-minded, almost monomaniacal,
in their concerns, those of Book 3 are more expansive and
relaxed. Some are in binary form, with a lyrical opening
giving way to more fiercely energetic writing. The harmonic
language becomes less dissonant (”White on White,”as
its title suggests, seems to be restricted to the white
keys of the piano) and the rhythms, influenced by the intricate
player-piano canons of Conlon Nancarrow, edgier but less
arcane.

Joshua Kosman, Chronicle Music Critic onclick="javascript:show(‘r60′)" name="60" href="#60">

InternationalPiano,
September/October 2004

Ligeti 2-piano pieces

In this second volume of Ligeti”s piano works the Canadian
pianist Lucille Chung is joined on tracks one to twelve
by her future husband Alessio Bax, the 2000 Leeds Piano
Competition winner.

The programme is not only interesting for its own sake
but it also marks the development of Ligeti the composer.
The earliest work, Five Pieces for piano four hands, shows
him advancing his technique and creative ability while
under the influence of Bartók and the indigenous
folk music of his country. The Three Pieces for two pianos,
composed in 1976, after the composer had left Hungary,
move into a different soundworld. Written during the period
when he was composing his opera Le Grand Macabre, these
works – Monument, Selbsportrait and Bewegung – point the
way forward towards compositional techniques and sounds
he would develop in his Etudes.

The full title of the “self-portrait”is Selbstportrait
mit Reich und Riley (und Chopin is auch dabei). While paying
homage to repetitive figuration Ligeti employs a technique
where one hand holds keys down silently thereby creating
spaces in the arpeggios written across them. He uses this
technique again in the etude Touches bloquées (track
15). The reference to Chopin occurs in a hair-raising Presto
near the end of the work. Flanking this central piece is
Monument, aptly described as “abstract immobility”where
the music is laid out to a prescribed set of rules. In
the more flowing Bewegung (”Movement”) the writing is the
reverse of that in Monument. To bring off a first-class
performance, not only do the performers require an incredible
technique and a compatible touch but an innate understanding
of each other. Chung and Bax play memorably as one.

The disc ends with Books One and Three of the Etudes.

Written in 1985, Book One freed the composer from the traumas
of the previous decade. In this and in the subsequent two
volumes Ligeti went on to explore exciting new ideas resulting
is one of the most virtuoso works of the 20th century in
every sense. Throughout, Lucille Chung reveals her exceptional
technical ability and the depths of her musical understanding.
The performance is a tour de force and highly recommended.

Shirley Ratcliffe

American Record Guide July/August 2004

Ligeti 2-piano pieces

[...] I love this pianist’s clear yet buttery approach
to this music- it makes these formidable pieces seem both
inviting and irresistible, as well as intellectually and
technically rigorous. The wonderful early four-hands pieces
are played with appropriate spirit. The later two-piano
pieces (1976) are more familiar Ligeti [...] Chung and
Bax give involved performances in nicely detailed sound.

Gimbel

El Diario Montañés, Santander,
August 27, 2004

Prueba superada

Lucille Chung, dueña de sobresalientes medios técnicos
y expresivos, tradujo de forma brillante los ‘Seis estudios
para piano” de Martínez

El Ciclo de Cámara y Recitales del Festival Internacional
de Santander ha tenido como broche el recital de la pianista
canadiense Lucille Chung, quien con carácter absoluto
estrenó los ‘Seis estudios para piano’ de Israel
David Martínez, (Barcelona 1969), obra ganadora
del V Concurso Internacional de Composición Pianística
‘Manuel Valcárcel’ celebrado el ano pasado y convocado
por la Fundación Marcelino Botín.

Como bien indica Luciano González Sarmiento en las
notas al programa, estos ‘Seis estudios para piano’ del
músico catalán, compositor de fecunda trayectoria
creativa, reflejan una actitud expresionista ya conocida
en él y sin olvidas los modelos clásicos
hay también claras referencias a György Ligeti.

Esta obra esta bien estructurada en su aspecto formal,
y hay en ella una sugestiva inventiva controlada. Tiene
riqueza tímbrica y lenguaje que llega en los seis
estudios contrastados. Su autor, presente y aplaudido en
este recital, ha querido escribir una música de
alto virtuosismo, lo que para cualquier intérprete
es una prueba de fuego que Lucille Chung, dueña
de considerables medios técnicos y expresivos, superó sobradamente.
Fue la suya una traducción concienzuda y de cuidada
matización.

Su clara articulación y su acertado concepto fueron
puestos de manifiesto en las ‘8 variaciones sobre un tema
de Süssmayr Wo0.76′ de Beethoven, las siempre poéticas
‘Piezas de Fantasía Op.12′ de Schumann y seis de
los ‘Preludios” de Scriabin, del que tocó también
su poema “Vers la flamme Op.72′, en los que lució admirablemente
su buen decir en el “instrumento rey”.

Richardo Hontañón

El País, August 27, 2004

…” Los seis estudios para piano, escuchados ahora
por vez primera dentro del Festival Internacional de
Santander, han sido interpretados excelentemente por
la concertista canadiense Lucille Chung, discípula
en la Universidad de Dallas de nuestro Joaquín
Achúcarro. El éxito ha sido total y justamente
compartido entre el autor y su intérprete, que
nos ofreció además valiosas versiones de
Beethoven, Schumann y Scriabin. En resumen: una jornada
de las dejan huella prolongada.”

Enrique Franco

Scherzo, July 2004

Scherzo July 2004

“Un Clásico de Nuestro Tiempo”

Joseph Pascual

En la música para piano de Ligeti se aprecian
múltiples influencias; influencias tan diversas
como la música folclórica de sus orígenes,
el jazz, el gran repertorio pianístico de Scarlatti
a Bartók (obviamente con sus amados Liszt, Chopin
y Debussy en medio), las experiencias con los pianos
mecánicos de Conlon Nancarrow, la simplicidad
de un Satie, las músicas no europeas (tanto de
los ritmos africanos como de las delicadas y evocadoras
sonoridades del gamelán), el minimalismo…y,
por supuesto, todo el caudal de este gran maestro, personalidad
indiscutible de la vanguardia europea que llega en sus
Estudios, según sus palabras a un lenguaje que “no
es vanguardista ni tradicional, ni tonal ni atonal”.
Hay mucha y muy diversa música en esta muy representativa
muestra del Ligeti pianístico, un programa que
comprende obras creadas entre 1976 y 2001, acerca del
cual podríamos optar o por el análisis
en profundidad de cada pieza para dar cuenta de su importancia,
o por invitar al hipotético interesado en él
a descubrirlo por sí mismo, a dejarse llevar por
su magia y por una escritura magistral en todos los sentidos.
Optamos, evidentemente por cuestiones de espacio, por
la segunda, pero invitamos a todos aquellos que se acerquen
a este espléndido e interesantísimo compacto
a profundizar en la audición, pues es ésta
una de esas grabaciones que demandan acudir a ella más
de una vez. La experiencia es muy enriquecedora. Las
versiones, a cargo de dos excelentes pianistas, son de
lo mejor que pueda encontrarse, y eso que hay competencia
del mas alto nivel que todo buen aficionado conoce y
con la cual esta puede parangonarse.

Musicweb UK, May 2004

Lucille Chung is obviously a young lady of no ordinary
talent. She has bravely chosen to record the piano works
of György Ligeti and therefore treads directly into
the territory of Pierre-Laurent Aimard, that composer’s
interpreter par excellence. Aimard’s fairly recent accounts
of Ligeti at the Wigmore Hall (October last year,) still
ring in the ears – they made an extraordinary impression.
It takes a special sort of bravery, there is no other word
for it, to tackle these scores head-on. The very sight
of the printed page will scare most off. To interpret them
with musicality and intelligence, as Lucille Chung has
done, is no small achievement.

Book II of the Etudes, in case you are wondering, was
included in her first Ligeti disc for Dynamic (CDS358).
Impressive programming, then, to present the remaining
two books we have so far, along with some works for two
pianos (the Drei Stücke) and piano duet (the Fünf
Stücke).

The Six Etudes that make up Book 1 constitute some of
the most inspired piano writing of the twentieth century.
No small claim, true, but every time I hear them I realise
there is more to discover, a seemingly infinite well of
ideas. The first, ‘Désordre’, is nightmarish for
the pianist in its relentless speed. Chung opts to present
it almost like a Nancarrow player-piano piece (Aimard brought
more of a sense of shape, and also excitement, to it),
yet at the climax (1′30), she sounds a little careful.

Chung’s strengths lie in the creation of the beautiful
in sound, so the second Etude, ‘Cordes à vide’,
is a crystalline drawing. ‘Touches bloquées’ is
the most impressive of the set, however, a Ligeti playful
Scherzo if ever there was one. Similarly the obsessive
scalic fragments against legato chordal figures of ‘Fanfares’
is great fun. The fanfares are recognisable. You can almost
hear Chung thinking ‘horns!’ as she plays.

Alas ‘Arc en ciel’ is less successful, probably because
Chung seems to try to apply Chopinesque rubato to music
that won’t take it. A shame, as she evidently realises
the sheer beauty of the harmonies; the glittering descents
of ‘Automne à Varsovie’ almost make up for it.

Chung responds well to the varied demands of the four
Etudes from Book 3 here. The slow-moving, hyper-beautiful
‘White on White’ (1995) is really lovely, ending like a
music-box winding down. The more martellato ‘Pour Irina’
(composed for Darmstadt, so perhaps the ‘harder’ exterior
should be unsurprising) reveals Chung’s finger-strength.
I just can’t decide whether the end is supposed to be cheeky
or not – maybe Chung couldn’t, either.

The manic ‘A bout de souffle’ is more relentless writing.
Here more mania from Chung would be welcome. The piece
should surely sound as if the player or the composer is
experiencing wild panic. That quality should be communicated
to the audience, especially as it would make an even more
marked contrast to the final ‘Canon’ whose glacial beauty
Chung projects well.

The disc kicks off with two sets for piano duo and piano
duet. The Drei Stücke for two pianos is less demanding
fare, with its deliberately irritating repeated octaves
in the first piece (’Monument’) before the two players
gradually part company. The more approachable, teasing,
Ligeti is present in ‘Selbstportrait mit Reich und Riley
(und Chopin ist auch dabei’) with its nod to minimalism,
becoming skittish before turning, later, to the violent.
The delicate final piece, (’In fliessender Bewegung’) reverses
the process of ‘Monument’, the players beginning apart
and slowly congealing into a disembodied chorale. All is
here crystal clear, although there is a characteristic
‘ping’ to some of the upper notes – characteristic, that
is, of the Yamaha pianos used throughout this disc.

The Five Pieces are sweetly Bartókian, even attaining, in the last
of the ‘Three Wedding Dances’ that together constitute the third piece,
the
carefree. Only the second piece, ‘Polifón etüd’ (’Polyphonic
Etude’) is truly grey.

Highly recommended, then. Do try to hear the smaller
pieces at least once as they afford much delight, but it
is the Etudes that provide the main course, and very filling
they are, too.

Colin Clarke

Classic Voice May 2004

***** 5 Stars

György Ligeti ha sempre perseguito uno stile assolutamente personale,
che ne fa uno dei grandi maestri del nostro tempo. La brava pianista
canadese
Lucille Chung da tempo s’è dedicata alla musica pianistica
dell’ungharese:
questo suo secondo cd è incentrato sul Primo e Terzo Libro dei Studi,
ai quali s’accompagnano la Sonatina, i Cinque pezzi per pianoforte a
quattro
mani (lavoro d’apprendistato, risalente agli anni cinquanta, prima
dell’abbandono
dell’Ungharia) e i Tre pezzi per due pianoforti (1976), che invece
appartengono
al Ligeti maturo. Estremamente interessante, soprattutto, il secondo di
questi
pezzi, intitolatoAutoritratto con Reich e Riley (c’è anche Chopin),
che interpola lo stilo ripetitivo dei minimalisti (Steve Reich e Terry
Riley)
assieme alle microvariazioni tipiche del proprio stile, senza
dimenticare
la virtuosità chopiniana. Ottima l’esecuzione del due pianistico
Chung/Alessio
Bax, che mette in luce l’aspetto meccanico e costruttishowta di questo
ironico
lavoro. La Chung, poi, dimostra un pianismo d’acciaio nell’esecuzione
dei
difficilissimi Studi, ciascuno dei quali affronta un problema tecnico
particolare,
sulla scia degli originali chopiniani. Lo Studio n.1 del primo libro
(sottotitolato
Disordine), per esempio, chiede all’esecutore un asimmetria ritmica tra
mano
destra e sinistra d’incredibile difficoltà , anche e soprattutto sotto
l’aspetto mentale e nervoso. La pianista canadese, come accennato,
domina
questa musica non dall’alto di una tecnica granitica, ma anche grazie a
un
chiaro, cristallino pensiero musicale.

Carmelo Di Gennaro

International Record Review April 2004

This completes Lucille Chung’s survey for the Dynamic
label of the complete Etudes of György Ligeti, the
three books of which comprise 18 pieces (the first disc,
CDS358, containing the second book of Etudes, the Musica
Ricercata and three very short pieces, was issued in
2001). In my humble opinion, Ligeti’s Etudes constitute
the most important music for solo piano written in the
last quarter of a century, a staggering addition to the
repertory, and declaring the composer to be in the very
front rank of today’s creative artists.

I trust that interested readers will have acquired
Richard Steinitz’s outstanding recent study of this composer
(Faber and Faber, reviewed in October 2003). This detailed
volume is not at all expensive (£25.00), is very
well written and offers valuable insights, not least
in Professor Steinitz’s commentaries on Ligeti’s solo
piano music.

Chung much impressed me at her Wigmore Hall début
in London in September 2001, in music ranging from Beethoven’s
rare Süssmayr Variations to Prokofiev’s Second Sonata
and the Liszt Sonata- plus a selection from Ligeti’s
Etudes. It was clear then that this young Canadian pianist
is more than gifted, a judgment borne out by her Ligeti
recordings, and on this latest one she is joined by an
outstanding young Italian, the 2000 Leeds Piano Competition
First Prize winner Alessio Bax, in Ligeti’s music for
two pianists. These latter works comprise the Drei Stücke
for two pianos and Fünf Stücke (the five being
‘Induló’, Polifón etüd’, ‘Három
lakodalmi tánc’, the Sonatina’ and tiny ‘Allegro’)
for piano duet.

In the two books (1 and 3) of Etudes Chung is quite
remarkable: technically, for this music she has no peer;
her clarity, musical taste and command of Ligeti’s varying
moods are most impressive. These ideal performances are
prefaced on this disc by the music for two pianists,
and one has to say that whoever put these players together
knew what he or she was doing. I am sure that Ligeti
himself was thrilled to hear their realization of his
relatively more elliptical works- a fine present for
his eightieth birthday celebrations, captured for all
time in splendid sound. The Naxos disc of Books 1 and
2 from Idil Biret is very good indeed, but I am in little
doubt that Chung has the comparative edge.

The music is brilliant throughout: moving, amusing,
outstandingly well imagined and realized in keyboard
terms: who wouldn’t want to sample pieces called ‘White
on White’, “Autumn in Warsaw’, ‘Self-portrait with
Reich and Riley (and Chopin is also there)’, alongside
such compellingly concentrated pieces as the ‘Sonatina’
for piano duet? This is an important record, excellently
produced and strongly recommended.

Robert Matthew-Walker

Répertoire, April 2004

R10

Voici un choix dans la musique de Ligeti qui relève du festival, et
de l’éblouissement. Ses Trois pièces pour deux pianos, ses
Etudes (premier et troisième livre) empruntent la joyeuse complexité
rythmique
de l’Americano-mexicain Conlon Nancarrow. La dix-septième, fascinante
et déséquilibrée comme les autres, affiche même
comme titre A bout de souffle (Godard) … Les Cinq pièces à quatre
mains ont en revanche cet hiératisme modeste et grinçant qui
est la patte d’Erik Satie. Parmi elles, la Sonatine cite le fameux
Sextuor
pour vents de Ligeti lui-même. Sans compter, bien sûr, le compatriote
et aîné Bartók qui affleure partout … Aucun malaise à cela
: Ligeti reconnaît volontiers ses emprunts, comme ceux aux Pygmées
ou à Bach, car il les sublime chaque fois. C’est la force des très
grands maîtres que de dépasser les modes ou influences qui traversent
la société au temps où ils la vivent. Picasso fut cubiste
aussi bien que néoclassique, car il fut d’abord Picasso.

Ligeti détient le privilège rare d’atteindre cet immémorial
où plus rien n’est trop neuf ni trop vieux…La Québécoise
Lucille Chung vit ce prestige dans sa chair. Fille d’une très vieille
culture et citoyenne d’un pays jeune, elle allie la science à la
spontanéité,
avec une technique inshowible. C’est tout l’art du naturel. Mais Lucille
Chung évite pour autant l’artifice, elle n’en a pas besoin. Ainsi,
pour les pièces à quatre mains ou à deux pianos, elle
préfère la présence et la complicité de l’excellent
Alessio Bax à on ne sait quel subterfuge de studio qui la verrait
confrontée au temps décalé et…à elle-même.
On se souvient des Etudes pour piano (livres 1 et 2) superbement
interprétées
par Erika Haase (Tacet 53, note 9), mais Lucille Chung sait leur
apporter,
en plus de ses autres vertus pianistiques, cette curiosité, ces sens
en éveil, en même temps qu’une fragilité, une fausse
incertitude dans la perfection (l’agogique) qui sont le signe d’une
belle
francité. Déjà saluée deux fois d’un 10 par Répertoire
(Ligeti CDS 358, Scriabin CDS 416), Lucille Chung mérite de l’être
une troisième fois. Bien sûr son jeu délicat ne fait
pas oublier la place tutélaire de Pierre-Laurent Aimard, souverain
dans sa manière de révéler les plans infinis de l’art
de Ligeti (Sony, noté 10 dans Répertoire no.98) Lucille Chung
la complète crânement avec son regard à elle, et c’est
très bien ainsi.

Jean Vermeil

Le Monde de la musique, April 2004

” Deux ans après avoir enregistré,
déjà pour le label Dynamic, le Deuxième
Livre des Etudes pour piano et quelques autres pages de
jeunesse (Capriccios, Invention, Musica Ricercata), l’excellente
pianiste québécoise Lucille Chung, offre
des interprétations tout aussi remarquablement maîtrisés
des Etudes nos.1 à 6 (Premier Livre) et nos 15 à 18
(Troisième Livre). Sa lecture virtuose et expressive
de ces œuvres techniquement redoutables mais d’une grande
fraîcheur d’invention en souligne avec bonheur la
subtilité et la dimension poétique. Les œuvres
pour deux pianos ou piano à quatre mains avec Alessio
Bax sont aussi bien servies. ”

Patrick Szersnovicz

CD
Classics, April 2004

“Lucille Chung, che qui (seconda, dopo il solo Pierre-Laurent
Aimard, credo) fa ascoltare gli ultimi studi di Ligeti
(finora solo in manuscritto), arriva in sala di registrazione
col suo partner Alessio Bax-giovane pianista ma già d’alto
lignaggio- per l’esecuzione, appunto del trittico succinato
e dei Cinque pezzi per pianoforte a quattro mani, dello
stesso autore: che sono decisamente pagine di uno stile
molto anteriore a quello che di lui oggi maggiormente conosciamo.
In queste esecuzioni, soprattuto in quella del ‘trittico’,
la resa timbrica e il rapporto dinamico dei due strumenti
appare realmente ideale, anche per una concezione del suono
che, rispetto ad esempio a quella delle due pianiste dell’altro
disco, si dimostra più attenta all’elemento edonistico
di questa scrittura. Elemento edonistico che la Chung,
da sola, afferma con convizione negli studi, in particolare
negli ultimi straordinari. Sorprendente questa rincorsa
tra il compositore, che anno dopo anno sforna i suoi studi,
senza pubblicarli subito ma permettendone la conoscenza,
e alcuni giovani interpreti che fanno a gara, in concerto
e in disco, per accaparrarseli!”

Riccardo Risaliti

American Record Guide
January/February 2004

Ottawa Festival Goes Monster

Ten Pianists Having Fun

…” Alessio Bax and Lucille Chung performed two movements
of Rachmaninoff Suite no.2 for two pianos. Here was perhaps
the purely musical highlight of the evening: a huge dynamic
range, unity of conception, a carefully paced climb to
the climax of the ‘Romance’ and powerful swirls of sounds
in the ‘Tarantella’ united in a lucid and deeply moving
musical experience.”

Robert Markow

Shenzhen Daily, March 2, 2004

Canadian Pianist’s Versality Shines in SZ

CANADIAN pianist Lucille Chung staged two passionate
and heartening recitals at the Huaxia Arts Center last
Thursday and Friday. This was the first time Chung played
in China and she was especially impressed by the many young
faces in her audiences.

What makes Chung’s performance special is her versatility.
Her repertoire includes classic, romantic and contemporary
music. Ms. Chung’s performance shows that she is a pianist
of marked individuality who has a good mastery of technical
skills, and who is capable of embodying her understandings
and feelings with these refined skills.

Chung held another recital in Guangzhou last Saturday. She is
scheduled to
return to China at the end of this year for another tour.

Newman Huo

The Forthnightly Tenerife News,
April 24, 2004

Breathless

The musical part of the programme followed, with
a good but often breathlessly fast performance of the Liszt
First Piano Concerto. The soloist was Canadian-born Lucille
Chung, and her exemplary technique was immediately evident
from the first solo entries after a strong orchestral introduction.
She is obviously extremely talented, and able to combine
delicacy of touch with a contrasting power which defies
her slight stature. The first movement produced some excellent
playing from both the OST and soloist, with the slow movement
beginning with some excellent string tone, coupled with
some good smooth playing from the piano. The finale was
taken at a faster speed than normal, but, despite a few
wayward tempo changes from Ms. Chung, the conductor and
the orchestra accompanied well, and the audience was treated
to a well-deserved encore.

TORONTO STAR , Jan. 29, 2004

Musicians’ fantasies dazzle the ears

JOHN TERAUDS

TORONTO STAR

Four young pianists came out to share their fantasies
with an intimate audience on Tuesday night. And it was
memorable. (But perhaps not in that sort of way.) The CBC
had assembled four of the best young Canadian-born keyboard
virtuosi – Vancouverite Libby Yu, Torontonian David Louie,
Montrealer David Jalbert and Montreal-born Lucille Chung
– at the Glenn Gould Studio for a program of classical
music written outside the usual formal structures, hence
the term “fantasy.” This program spanned Bach to Rachmaninov,
in many cases giving an airing to works which rarely see
the concert stage or recording studio. A special treat
was having more than one performer, which gave extra insight
into the different style each artist brings to a performance.
Without a doubt the best came last, when Chung sat down
to play Robert Schumann’s Op. 12 Fantasiestücke (Fantasy
Pieces). These eight pieces are sometimes brash, sometimes
lyrical and always melodic. But the melodies and musical
motifs are buried inside clusters of notes which all too
often get in the way of a performance. It’s the most difficult
kind of music: something complex that should sound simple.
The Dallas resident rose to the challenge, delivering the
most convincing interpretation of this work this reviewer
has heard. Chung’s phrasing was impeccable and she always
had a clear sense of each piece’s musical arc. Chung exudes
grace and poise at the keyboard, directing all of her energy
toward making the music speak clearly. The Rimouski-born
Jalbert is one to watch, if his performance of Haydn’s
C Major Fantasie (Hob XVII/4) and Rachmaninov’s Five Fantasy
Pieces Op. 3 are any indication. Winner of the first prize
in the 1997 Montreal Symphony competition and second prize
in the 1999 CBC Competition and a recent graduate of the
Royal Conservatory’s Glenn Gould Professional school, Jalbert
displayed wonderful purpose and poise in two very different
styles. He delivered a Haydn that was forceful without
being heavy, and was suitably moody in his interpretation
of Rachmaninov’s first five published pieces. Only the
second of the Rachmaninov pieces, called “Prélude,” is
performed regularly, but the others make for interesting
listening, from the great wallow of the opening “Elégie,” to
the Iberian-tinged closing “Sérénade.” The
musical motifs the 19-year-old Rachmaninov lays out here
are heard again and again in his later compositions, with
ever-increasing sophistication. Yu romanticised J.S. Bach’s
odd Chromatic Fantasia And Fugue In D Minor (BWV 903) with
wonderful effect, but remained too controlled and distant
to make a dent in Chopin’s roiling Op. 49 Fantasy. Mozart’s
C-minor Fantasia (KV 475) is uncharacteristically jumbled
and unfocused, and Louie didn’t make a compelling case
why this piece should be performed. On the other hand,
the Toronto pianist ended the first half of the program
with a heroic rendition of Liszt’s spectacular “Norma” Fantasy
(S394), which colours the highlights of Bellini’s opera
with great keyboard fireworks. Here Louie could show off
his prodigious technique to great effect. Had he added
a bit of rubato for dramatic nuance – surely a good thing
in Romantic music – the performance would have been fabulous.
This excellent recital will be broadcast as part of CBC’s
OnStage series on March 28. Radio Two airs it at 2:05 p.m.,
Radio One at 8:05 p.m. It’s well worth the listen. David
Jalbert is back in town for the Women’s Musical Club on
March 25 at 1:30 p.m. at Walter Hall. You may want to skip
work that day

The Globe and Mail , January 30, 2004

One fantastic evening of piano

OnStage: Piano Fantasy

At Glenn Gould Studio In Toronto on Tuesday

Generally, one of the surest bets in classical Toronto is that CBC
Radio’s
OnStage series will provide entertaining, creative musical programming.
And
Tuesday’s concert at the Glenn Gould Studio proved true to form…

Lucille Chung, now based in Dallas, opened up with real skill and
taste the
amazingly intricate emotional and creative world of Robert Schumann’s
Fantasiestucke,
Op. 12 (by far the best music on the program).

ROBERT HARRIS

Musical Pointers, UK. December 2003

György Ligeti

DREI STÜCKE FÜR ZWEI KLAVIERE; FÜNF STÜCKE FÜR KLAVIER
ZU VIER HÄNDEN(Works for two pianos and piano four hands with ALESSIO
BAX, piano)

ÉTUDES POUR PIANO, PREMIER et TROISIÈME LIVRE (Lucille Chung,
solo
piano)

Dynamic CDS 434

This is a a delightful CD, cleverly compiled and ordered;
also a pleasing family memento, because we are told that
in this second volume the young Canadian pianist Lucille
Chung, who completes with it her recording of all Ligeti’s
piano output, has collaborated with her husband-to-be,
Leeds 1st prizewinner Alessio Bax in the works for two
pianos and piano four hands. Their rapport, colouration,
simultaneous chording and transparancy of textures (on
Yamaha pianos) is remarkable, and the whole thing has a
joyous feeling of delight in youthful virtuosity, with
Ligeti’s never far absent sense of humour often in evidence.

They begin with the three innovative and mature pieces
for duo-pianos from the mid-’70s, then do wonders with
the much earlier Bartokian five pieces for piano duet,
showing a crisp articulation which should bring them into
the recital for that humble domestic medium, which is now
coming back to favour largely because of the recognition
of the marvellous quality of Schubert’s contribution to
the genre.

The last pieces of that early set of duets are quite
testing, then follows the first of the still expanding
Books of Études which have won a place in the repertoire
as central as those of Chopin and Debussy. Unless you are
keeping tabs on the track list, you would not immediately
realise that this increase in complexity is achieved by
two hands, not four!

These pieces of Books One and Three are an inexhaustible source of
pleasure,
whether fumbling to decipher the scores (which require one’s brain to
split
into two) at the keyboard, or listening to the increasing range of
recordings;
everyone aspiring to be a “contemporary pianist” has to try to master
them.
They are characterised well, as is the other music included, in Danio
Prefumo’s
notes, likewise in the earlier volume. Lucille Chung and Alessio Bax
have
excellent websites, worth showiting for fuller background, and including
a wide range of reviews. For the first (you should certainly purchase
them
as a pair) I cannot do better than to endorse Stephen Pettitt’s opinion
in
The Sunday Times:

” – - This disc shows her to be a considerable artist,
admirable for her bold choice of music – Ligeti is not,
for most pianists, at the heart of the repertoire – for
her obvious enjoyment of the character of the music, and
for her ease with the extreme technical difficulties posed
by the second book of Etudes (1988-93). There’s more besides:
the skittish Capriccios of 1947, a post-Bachian Invention
of 1948, and the 11 pieces of Musica Ricercata (1951-53),
which progressively encompass first one, then two, then
three pitches, and so on as the cycle proceeds. Gloriously
experimental, this is music of a purity and intellect that
has rather gone out of fashion. More’s the pity.”

© Peter Grahame Woolf

Winnipeg Free Press, October 25, 2003

On Saturday night, Harry Strub’s Virtuosi Concerts series
came up with a new approach to its normal recital evenings.
Not only did Lucille Chung come to entertain the patrons
with her impressive piano playing, but she also paused
in between each piece to step up to the microphone and
introduce her repertoire and her musical ideas to the audience.
It was a very successful endeavour. This concert with commentary
from the guest artist got off to a nice start with an appetizer
from Beethoven. His Eight Variations on the Trio Tandlen
und Scherzen is, frankly, not particularly familiar territory
for most listeners. However, Chung’s easy commentary on
its operatic genesis and Viennese influences opened the
door nicely for the audience. Chung’s interpretation of
the pieces was elegant and expressive and she enjoyed emphasizing
the dynamic contrasts in the variations. Her singing tone
was evident throughout as she rang out the melody beautifully.
While her performance was not improshowational in nature,
she did organize the music in convincing fashion. The remainder
of the first half was taken up with pieces from Schumann’s
Fantasiestucke Opus 12. Again, after a nice verbal introduction
to the works, she proceeded to demonstrate a real sense
of melody. Her take on Des Abends was a lesson in pedalling
and the need to sing a melody extravagantly over a chordal
accompaniment. But she did not lack for power and passion
either: Aufschwung and In der Nacht were idiomatic and
romantic, and the note-spinning difficulties of Traumeswirren
were attacked with fleet abandon. The second half was quite
interesting and featured a lot of music that really ought
to be better known: Morel’s Etude de Sonorite No. 2 reminded
one of a Ligeti etude in its wild pianistic effects and
pyrotechnics. Chung’s threw herself into it with abandon
and truly brought it off well. Its sonorities took advantage
of the piano’s geography and resonance perfectly and it
possessed a depth beyond its rowdy surface. Chung also
proved herself to be a fine Scriabin player in her selection
of nine preludes from the Opus 11 and Opus 16 sets. Her
ability to dive into each brief sound world with total
dedication was very fine indeed, and her sense of Scriabin’s
languid and perfumed romanticism was innate. At press time,
she was about to begin Liszt’s Spanish Rhapsody, which
is a very demanding and exciting work: a perfect ending
to an evening that was interesting not only for its playing,
but also for its programming and its commentary

Andrew
Thompson

Neue Musikzeitung,
July/August 2003

“Das Profil des Festivals hat sich mittlerweile verändert
– zugunsten seiner Attraktivität -, und zwar weil
junge, aber bereits international erfahrene Talente wie
Lucille Chung dort auftreten. Die in Kanada geborene zierliche
Pianistin erntete publizistische Superlative für ihre
Aufnahmen der “Études” von György Ligeti, von
denen sie drei mit feinem Sensorium und stupender Energie
aus Anlass seines 80. Geburtstags am 28. Mai spielte. Eine
aktuelle Reverenz. Und eine weitere an Sergej Prokofieff
zum 50. Todestag. Die Klaviersonate Nr. 2 (1912) entwickelte
sich bei Lucille Chung zum Tornado, sowohl auf den Tasten
als auch in ihrem Gesicht, das die schroffe Kinematik dieses
Werkes wie einen inneren Film reflektierte. Und dann, wie
im Auge des Wirbelsturms: sanfte “Préludes” von
Alexander Skrja-bin. Völlig souverän in beiden
Extremen konnte Lucille Chung auch die härtesten Skeptiker überzeugen.”

Hans-Dieter
Grünefeld

Resmusica, July 2003

” Scriabine, créateur mystique, excentrique, reste
encore par trop délaissé en France. Il n’est
que de constater le manque d’égard envers ses trois
Symphonies, par exemple. En revanche, il est davantage
servi par le disque. Lucille Chung peut s’enorgueillir
de bouleverser la discographie existante. Cette ex-enfant
prodige affronte, à dix ans (en 1983), le dix-neuvième
Concerto pour piano de Mozart avec l’Orchestre Symphonique
de Montréal : débuts prometteurs laissant
augurer d’une personnalité attachante. L’objet du
nouveau CD est d’offrir un florilège de pièces
pour piano d’une difficulté démoniaque. Après
un album Ligeti, l’artiste canadienne au charmant minois
nous convie à une vivifiante randonnée en
compagnie de Scriabine au langage résolument moderne,
voire futuriste. Elle gravit, avec feu et brio, ses sentiers
escarpés aux sinuosités éprouvantes.
Mutine, Lucille Chung confie un jour à la presse
avec une humilité teintée d’humour, le profil
du récital idéal selon elle : outre Ligeti,
son interprète de dilection, semble t-il, elle convoquerait
Scriabine, Liszt et la Fantaisie de Schumann. Le présent
enregistrement fait office de ” divertissement “, de saine
récréation alliée au bonheur de partager
sa passion ! Les terrifiants écueils de ces partitions
extrêmes ne la déstabilisent pas outre mesure.
Lucille Chung déjoue chaque piège avec une
apparente et déconcertante facilité. Récusant
tout hédonisme sonore, elle aménage des passerelles
et de secrètes affinités avec diverses esthétiques
passées ou à venir. Les Préludes de
l’opus 11 sont vingt-quatre gemmes jaculatoires ; certains
d’entre eux – écoutez les plages 5, 8, 16 – trahissent
une dette évidente envers Chopin. Par-delà la
rigoureuse architecture qui les sous-tend, l’artiste d’origine
coréenne épouse avec spontanéité,
panache, la rare complexité des pièces qu’elle
a sélectionnées, leur atypique polymorphisme
: méditatif, torturé, révolté,
transi, lunatique, languide. Elle pare ses vitraux pianistiques
de furtives couleurs impressionnistes, voire post-wagnériennes.
Jusque dans les pages nerveuses ou agressives, elle réussit
la gageure de dessiner de lumineuses aquarelles fauréennes,
sans chercher à martyriser la ligne instrumentale,
ni se départir d’une sensibilité exacerbée.
Toute la modernité du musicien showionnaire surgit
tout à coup, au gré d’un prélude de
l’opus 16 (plage 25) , elle décrypte avec un art
consommé des nuances symbolistes, un énigmatique
poème debussyste. Dans les Danses de l’opus 73,
apparaissent en filigrane les œuvres avant-gardistes de
Mossolov), voire de Schulhoff. Le sommet du disque est
le poème flamboyant Vers la flamme, miniature fantastique
qui rappelle le Liszt ultime, celui de la Bagatelle sans
tonalité de 1885. Partition audacieuse, fascinante, à la
tonalité erratique, il y règne une ardente
ivresse chromatique, des volutes harmoniques reptiliennes, épileptiques.
Le piano est acculé dans ses ultimes retranchements.
Cette pièce pourrait avoir été composée
par un névrosé ayant quitté depuis
longtemps les sphères du rationnel, ou un dangereux
psychopathe du clavier, sous effet d’un narcotique puissant.
C’est un sans faute de Miss Chung, qui réalise l’exploit
de disqualifier Horowitz lui-même (Sony classical).
Elle dévoile ici encore une agilité technique
spectaculaire qui ne showe jamais l’effet superfétatoire,
et relie Vers la flamme à deux autres partitions
tout aussi démentielles : la fantaisie orientale
Islamey de Balakirev et le Scherzo diabolico de Charles
Valentin Alkan. Jeu frondeur, dévastateur, rebelle
de Lucille Chung, en complète communion avec l’essence ” occulte ” de
ce morceau illuminé. Celui-ci s’apparente à un
rituel orgiaque, une bacchanale luciférienne, une
messe noire. Scriabine est-il attiré par le surnaturel,
les sciences ésotériques et divinatoires,
ce que l’on nomme aujourd’hui le style ” gore ” ou ” trash ” ?
En tout cas, pour la frénésie cosmique de
ces 4 mn 59 s., il faut posséder ce disque. Rarement
pianiste se révèle investie d’un tel sens
foudroyant de la pulsation… symphonique. J’ajoute à cela
appoggiatures hoquetantes, netteté des attaques,
grandeur épique, précision des reliefs et
surplombs mélodiques, rejet de toute lecture ultra
cérébrale et de virtuosité hyper calculée.
Un apport majeur de la discographie de ce romantique tardif.
Dans l’attente programmée d’un enregistrement d’Olivier
Messiaen, la digitalité caressante de Lucille Chung
serait idéale pour certains poèmes français
pour piano, tel le Chant de la Mer, ballade marine de Gustave
Samazeuilh. ”

Etienne Müller

Classical CD Source, July 2003

“Scriabin’s piano music is virtuosic, ingenuously romantic
and darkly modern by turns; a whole disc of it represents
a diverse challenge to the performer. Lucille Chung is
at her best at the opening of the disc, the 24 Preludes,
Op.11. Her singing legato tone and her winning simplicity
are ideal vehicles for the poetic themes of preludes 2,
4, 5 and 7 or, indeed, the opening prelude of the five
of Op.16. Op.11/4 gives an especially good idea of the
beauties of Chung’s phrasing. Nor does she lack the technique
to convey the virtuosity of preludes such as Nos.3, 6 or
14 of Op.11 or the precision needed for Op.16/2. . Genuine
simplicity succeeds in a prelude such as Op.16/4. Lucille
Chung is Canadian, born in Montreal, and already has a
reputation for playing contemporary music; she has an impressive
list of recital and concerto appearances. It is certain
her many talents will bring her future success. The sound
here is fine and open, if over-bright at times. Nevertheless,
this is a recommendable CD, which is immaculately presented.”

Ying Chang

Répertoire, April 2003

“Le programme de ce disque confronte le premier et le
dernier Scriabine. D’un côté le vaste cycle
des 24 Préludes op.11, d’inspiration chopinienne,
et les 5 Préludes op.16 de la même veine,
de l’autre les quatre opus ultimes publiés par le
compositeur, pages étranges et mystérieuses,
au seuil de l’atonalité. La pianiste canadienne
Lucille Chung, déjà couronnée d’un
10 de Repertoire pour un récital Ligeti chez le
même éditeur, joue toutes ces oeuvres de manière
merveilleusement musicale, excellant à démêler
le fil de ces mélodies sinueuses et subtiles. Le
piano de Scriabine est assez rarement – et souvent mal-
enregistré: un tel disque apparaît donc comme
une bénédiction pour l’amateur qui a si peu à se
mettre sous la dent! Ainsi, pour le cycle des 24 Préludes
op.11, à moins de retrouver les albums déjà anciens
de Kun Woo Paik (Dante), Billy Eidi (Adda), Paul Komen
(Globe) ou Josette Morata ( REM), nous ne disposons guère
que de l’intégrale en deux CD de Yevgueni Zarafiants
chez Naxos (notés respectivement 8 et Recommandé dans
les Nos 138 et 150), fort honnête mais pas totalement
séduisante, largement surclassée ici en tout
cas. Les prestations de Lucille Chung se comparent en effet
sans complexe à celles des plus grands pianists,
qui ne nous ont souvent laissé que des miettes.
Hormis le génial mais mal enregistré Sofronitzki,
nous disposons par exemple de sept des Préludes
op.11 gravés par Horowitz (RCA)- ou de seize par
Andrei Gavrilov (EMI)-, des deux Danses op.73 par Ashkenazy
(Decca) et par Richter (Philips, avec Vers la flamme op.72),
etc. Outre une capitation sonore moderne plus satisfaisante,
et malgré des conceptions souvent proches, les interprétations
de Lucille Chung se caractérisent par un allégement
de la pâte sonore showant la transparence, une retenue
dynamique, une manière d’intérioriser les
emportements (cf. le Prélude op.11 no.8, exemplaire à cet égard).
On y trouve un peu moins de tension que chez Horowitz,
mais advantage d’envoûtement sonore, de douceur pénétrante,
de confidences chuchotées. Bref, ce disque est un
véritable enchantement.”

Philippe van den Bosch

Ritmo, Spain, March 2003

“El dedicado a Scriabin me ha parecido espléndido:
versiones de charácter pero delicadas, algo consustancial
al piano del autor de Poema del éxtasis. Pero más
me ha sorprendisdo el otro, con difíciles obras
de Ligeti, en el que la Chung muestra mucho más
que dedos: hay afinidad con el lenguaje del austro-húngaro,
pero sobre todo lo que hay en las versiones es criterio
y madurez. En fin, Lucille Chung es una desconocida entre
nosotros, pero anoten el nombre: tiene ya carrera, pero
probablemente lo mejor esté por venir.”

P.G.M.

International Record Review,
April 2003

“Lucille Chung’s first Dynamic recording, which featured
Ligeti’s Second Book of Études along with various
shorter pieces dating from an earlier period in which the
composer was searching for an individual style, elicited
deserved praise as much for its colour and imaginative
responses as for its assured mastery of the music’s often
ferocious technical demands. In turning her attention now
to Scriabin, Chung brings the same qualities to music whose
idiom, despite its comparative familiarity, is scarcely
less elusive. Although her repertoire includes Scriabin’s
brazenly ecstatic Fifth Sonata, she has for the most part
confined her programme on this occasion to miniatures from
opposite ends of the composer’s stylistic spectrum. The
exception here is Vers la flamme, a five-minute apocalyptic
showion memorably described by Horowitz as ‘psychedelic
music dealing with the mysterious forces of fire and the
atom that can destroy all of humanity’.

If Chung’s perspective on the inferno in Vers la flame
lacks some of the binding intensity of Vladimir Horowitz-
astonishingly, a video performance of even more manic terror
is presently unavailable and must surely reappear in DVD
format long before – her less febrile approach is none
of the less persuasive in its own right. This is particularly
true in the more wistful, more unapologetically Chopinesque
numbers of Op.11, in which yet unaffected yet stylish sensitivity
is especially telling as, for example, in her control of
sonority and texture in No.11, a pianistic sophistication
that is no less evident in her exquisite handling of Op.16
No.1. She is most impressive in the relentless drive of
No.24, as she is in the dynamic arch of No.7 – her elegant
fingerwork in No.3 also rivals that of Lane in tracing,
with the utmost refinement, fragmentary melodic strands
from the rapidly shifting contours. Chung is as alive to
the grace and nostalgic charm of the music as she is to
the demons that lie behind so many of these fleeting images.

Indeed, her responsiveness to Scriabin’s showion of the
Final Unity, juxtaposing images of Love and Death, conveys
the psychological unease, as well as the emotional fragility,
that the deceptively transparent textures disguise with
uncanny instinct. Recommended.”

Charles Hopkins

Gramophone,
February 2003

The wildly fluctuating imagination of Scriabin caught
wonderfully by Chung

“In the 2001 Awards issue I praised a Dynamic Ligeti recording by
Lucille Chung , celebrating her “imperturbable clarity and insight” in a
thorny but enchanting programme. Now in her new Scriabin recital she
takes us on a journey ranging from Opp 11 to 74 that is arguably not
such a giant leap from Ligeti. Concentrating on miniatures rather than
sonatas, Chung’s stylish and refined performances capture ideally
Scriabin’s wildly fluctuating imagination, the way that, like Ligeti, a
mere fragment is fanned into intricate and volatile life. She is less
manic than Horowitz in, say, Vers la flamme but she has an
enviable way of tempering Scriabin’s neuasthenic, morbidly sensitive
nature with a restraint that never excludes drama or intensity.

At the opposite end of the spectrum , the 24 Preludes, Op 11, where a
Chopinesque bias is already coloured by a distinctive voice, she is
warmly attuned to brio and introspection alike. Outstanding in the
wistful, in-turned character of No 10, or the way in which the
entreating magic of No 11 dissolves into quietly rapturous dreams, she
is no less successful in the fire-storm of No 14 or the thrumming
insistence of No 24. Her pedalling is sensitive and discreet in the
ravishing first Prelude fom Op 16, with chimes and echoes that surely
originate from the closing pages of Chopin’s D flat Nocturne, and her
command never falters in the darkly obsessive world of Op 74.

Chung has several distinguished rivals on record in this repertoire,
but her performances are sufficiently fluent, characterful and
consistent to make comparisons largely irrelevant. She has been finely
recorded and lavishly presented and further discs by this outstanding
pianist are eagerly awaited.”

Bryce Morrison

The Whole Note, March 2003

“At the ripe old age of ten years, piano prodigy Lucille
Chung made her debut with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra.
After admission to the Curtis Institute of Music when she
was fourteen, this Montreal wunderkind began graduate work
at Juilliard while still a teenager. Chung’s international
reputation rightly soared when her 2001 recording of Ligeti’s
daunting piano music (Dynamic CDS 358) received accolades
from BBC Music Magazine, Repertoire and Fono Forum. She
is now approaching the end of her second decade as a professional
concert performer.

This wonderful new CD pairs some of Scriabin’s earliest
romantic piano music with his last revolutionary compositions
in 1915, the year of his untimely death at the age of 43.
Chung’s mastery of his idiosyncratic, complex take on Romanticism
gives us the starting point for the entirely original,
unorthodox musical language that Scriabin created from
1910 onwards.

George Perle depicts Scriabin as the first composer “…
to exploit serial procedures systematically as a means
of compensating for the loss of traditional tonal functions.” But
this was only part of the landscape of Scriabin’s advanced
but highly accessible music. His 1915 solo pieces were
bellwethers for a Russian avant-garde that rivaled Western
Europe’s in creativity, but which were to be literally
erased by Stalin.

Chung’s intellectual grasp of Scriabin’s formal structures,
her instincts for his intense tonal colors, and the virtuosity
necessary to tackle his complexity lead us right into the
poetry of Scriabin’s music.”

Phil Ehrensaft

The Classical Source, March 4,2003

Ligeti Piano Music – Lucille Chung

Ligeti’s piano music is starting to be more widely represented
on CD. There is an ongoing series on BIS, with Fredrik
Ullén, and although Pierre-Laurent Aimard’s contribution
to Sony’s Ligeti Edition appears to have been deleted,
Idil Biret has recently recorded the two books of Etudes
for Naxos.

Lucille Chung can more than hold her own in this company
and her recital is an excellent programme in its own right.
In her hands, many of these pieces take on a rather less
forbidding character than they can assume with some other
players, and Chung responds readily to the particular style
determined by each piece. In chronological terms, the Caprices
(1947) and Invention (1948) are the earliest, though placed
sensibly between the two lengthier works on this CD. Here,
the music is somewhat less thorny than in some of the later
pieces, with some attractive, folk-like melodic moments
which perhaps call to mind the piano music of Bartók
whose rhythmic drive is also a feature of Ligeti’s writing.
These shifting metres are fluidly realised by Chung who,
here and elsewhere, finds a welcome degree of charm and
wit, making Ligeti’s invention seem less austere than is
sometimes the case.

More substantial is the second book of Etudes (1988-93).
The title ’study’ can suggest a dry form, but Ligeti often
adopts a surprisingly lyrical approach. The set as a whole
is well contrasted, with some quasi-impressionistic movements
alternating with more intractable music, such as the rapid
pulsation that is a feature of Etude 10 (No.4 of this second
book). The set culminates in a violate finale with forceful
and extreme dynamic indications. Once again, Chung delivers
considered and convincing performances, and the more virtuosic
moments, such as rapidly moving scales at the extremes
of the piano’s register, are delivered effortlessly. Her
pedalling, too, is worthy of praise, for she never allows
the sound to blur and, where appropriate, individual notes
or lines are clearly brought out without any undue distraction
or point-making.

Chung’s integrity and technical facility is further evinced
in Musica Ricercata (1951-53). As implied by the archaic-sounding
title, homage is paid to earlier models, such as those
of Bartók (in whose memory the ninth piece, marked
‘Mesto’, sadly, is touchingly dedicated) and, perhaps surprisingly,
in the concluding fugal ‘Omaggio a Girolamo Frescobaldi’.
There is a neo-classical feel to many of these short pieces,
which may surprise those who only know Ligeti through atmospheric
orchestral sonorities or disquieting choral sounds. No.8
is a Stravinsky-like ‘Vivace’, bi-tonality rears its head
in No.10 (shades of Milhaud?) and there’s a deliciously
ironic waltz (No.4). Perhaps most startling is the opening,
with its play on a single note in different octaves – Lucille
Chung’s dedicated and affectionate playing captures these
multifarious moods. If ‘affectionate’ is perhaps a surprising
description, Chung not only has these often fearsomely
demanding pieces well within her technical grasp, she seems
genuinely fond of them too.

Lucille Chung is a gifted pianist whom I look forward
to hearing again.

Timothy Ball

Review Vancouver,
October 2002

“Lucille Chung’s note-perfect and lovingly shaped
version of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20 should alone
have drawn savage beasts to be charmed. The first and third
movement cadenzas were dazzling in the colouring and flawless
elegance. This was vivid, stylish, and convincingly lyric
playing, and Chung gave an unstinting display of her masterly
pianism. The spot-on balance between podium and soloist
brought nuance and finesse to this very familiar piece.”

J. H. Stape


Neue Zeitung, Germany, June 2002

“Die Hauptleistung dieser bestechenden Klavieredition
liegt in der technischen Brillanz und geistigen Durchdringen.
Jede Etüde erscheint als Wunderwerk aus Mechanik und
Poesie.”

Interpretation: *****

Lutz Lesle

Il
Giornale della Musica, Italy, July-August 2002

“Chung padroneggia con chiarezza di articolazione ed intensita
musicalità anche le pagine più esigenti,
come l’ossessivo Der Zauberlehrling o il tellurico Columna
infinita, arrichendo nella scelta del colore i risultati
sonori della ricerca di questo maestro del Novecento.”

Barbara Diana

Amadeus, Italy, July 2002

“La pianistica di Montreal Lucille Chung esprime il meglio
della propria tecnica e musicalità per interpretare
con forza scultorea questo percorso artistico.”

Artistico: *****

a.b.

ClassicsToday.com,
March 2002

“My first encounter with Lucille Chung’s cultivated pianism
and individual artistry occurred at her 1996 New York recital
debut where she played one of the most memorable all-Liszt
programs in my listening experience. She proves every bit
as impressive in a cross-section of Ligeti’s piano music,
and easily holds her own in the company of supreme Ligeti
interpreters such as Fredrik Ullén and Pierre-Laurent
Aimard. The chattering rhythmic complexities throughout
the second book of Etudes benefit from the immediacy and
impact of Dynamic’s close miking. Chung doesn’t delineate
the inner rhythms of Der Zauberlehrling or L’escalier di
diable with Aimard’s easy adroitness, yet she makes Fém’s
staccatos more distinct and brings more varied articulation
and melodic pointing to Columna infinita. In the two early
Capriccios and the Invention, I lean more toward Chung’s
fanciful, crisply dynamic readings than to Irina Kataeva’s
accomplished sobriety in Sony’s Ligeti Edition. It’s a
toss-up between Aimard and Chung in the Musica Ricercata’s
11 quirky, diverse short movements. Aimard makes his points
through steady rhythmic cumulation and has a superior instrument
on hand. However, Chung’s discreetly effective rubatos
personalize the music to more dramatic effect. I’m not
sure if Chung coached these works with Ligeti, but I think
he’ll warm to how this gifted pianist plays his music.”

Jed Distler

Le Monde de la Musique, avril 2002

“…La jeune pianiste québécoise Lucille Chung
offre des interprétations remarquablement maîtrisées
des pages de jeunesse, encore néobartókiennes,
de Ligeti. Sa lecture sobre, virtuose mais expressive du
Deuxième Livre des Études en souligne le
raffinement et la dimension poètique.”

Patrick Szernovizc

Scotland on Sunday, March 17, 2002

“Best known for Lux Aeterna, a choral work featured in
Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, Ligeti’s compositions
span the last half of the 20th century. This CD, performed
by the Canadian Lucille Chung, draws on piano music written
between 1947 and 1993. Ligeti’s second book of Piano Etudes,
from 1993, are the most complex, demanding great skill.
The 11 pieces comprising Musica Ricerata, from 1951-53,
are perhaps the most instantly accessible, but it’s the
Etudes that make one gasp, as does Chung’s dazzling interpretation.”

Christopher Bowen

American
Record Guide, January/February 2002

“…the instrument becomes a chamber of cloudy, ethereal,
sometimes explosive sound, full of quirky repeated patterns
and elegant designs, all played with gusto, delicacy, and
staggering virtuosity by Lucille Chung.”

Sullivan

Répertoire, février 2002

“… C’est l’une des pieces où le talent de la
Québécoise Lucille Chung, qui est passée
par la Juilliard et le Mozarteum, éclate. Elle
a une incroyable façon de retenir la tension qu’elle
génère, qui peut rendre fou… La force qu’elle
développe est étonnante pour une telle
jeune femme, à en faire oublier sa virtuosité et
sa technicité par un charme vraiment étonnant…On
reparlera d’elle…”

10/10

Jean Vermeil

Classic CD, Italy, January 2002

“…fascinating and poetic…aggressive and sweeping”

Riccardo Risaliti

Piano News, January 2002

” She is so tiny and only 1 meter and 50 centimeters tall.
But nevertheless she plays with such great power and verve
nobody would expect. The Etudes deuxième livre are
especially demanding in these qualiies . Lucille Chung,
born in Canada, conquered them with sensitive construction
and phrasing. She is always thinking from the pianistic
point of view: that is why her interpretations are congenial
and always organic. She plays “Fém” with pep and “Vertige” fluently.
And the polyrhythmic excesses of “L’escalier du diable” are
totally controlled but always mastered with admirable ease.
This high level is maintained throughout her interpretation
of “Musica Ricercata:, especially the “Sostenuto”. This
recording is mature and exemplary.”

Hans-Dieter Grünefeld

Fono Forum, January 2002

In comparison to a collection of Etudes played by Erika
Haase: “Younger Canadian pianist Lucille Chung is undoubtedly
the greater daredevil when it comes to Ligeti. She conquers
Ligeti with exceptional sensitivity and ease. She does
not shy away at the devilish difficulties of “L’escalier
du diable”. And when it comes to smaller works , she demonstrates
the congeniality with Bartok. Musica Ricercata is amazing
in her interpretation and even a bit coquettish. This recording
is First Rate and the engineers are as well.” (*****)

Michael Stenger

The Gazette, Canada,
January 24, 2002

“…perhaps the most remarkable of many luminous performances
by Montreal pianist Lucille Chung.”

Arthur Kaptainis

Musical Opinion, December 2001

Lucille Chung at the Wigmore “The young Canadian pianist
Lucille Chung gave a notably successful programme for her
UK debut in the Wigmore Hall on 7 September…she was impressibly
commanding in the three of Ligeti’s Études from
Book 2, projected with superb virtuosity and musicianship,
qualities she also brought to Prokofiev’s Second Sonata,
particularly in the finale. Liszt’s B minor Sonata ended
her programme in a very well structured powerful reading
of no little intensity and insight.”

Robert Matthew-Walker

BBC Music Magazine, December 2001

” Ligeti’s Etudes are the outstanding piano works of the
past two decades- dazzling pieces in the lineage of Chopin
and Debussy, yet exploiting keyboard virtuosity with utter
individuality. They are instant classics. Anyone playing
them needs to stand comparison with the authoritative accounts
recorded for Sony’s Ligeti Edition by Pierre-Laurent Aimard.
Lucille Chung’s brilliant, crystalline performances are
certainly very impressive indeed. The jazzy rhythms of “Fém” (Hungarian
for “metal”), the dizzying Escher-like scales of “Vertige”,
the rapid mechanical ostinato of “Der Zauberlehrling” (a
piece study inspired by the player-piano music of Conlon
Nancarrow) – all these are quite superbly rendered. So,
too, are the older pieces included here, written while
Ligeti was still living in Hungary, “Musica Ricercata” is
a sort of elaborate counting-game, with each successive
piece using one more note than the last. Some of its numbers
resurfaced in Ligeti’s Bagatelles for wind quintet; and
one of them was pretentiously used in Stanley Kubrick’s
final film, Eyes Wide Shut. Chung is fully responsive to
the music’s wit , rhythmic élan and expressive depth.
[...] Those who already have Aimard’s recording would benefit
from hearing Chung.”

PERFORMANCE *****

SOUND *****

Misha Donat

The Sunday Times, London, September 16, 2001

“The Canadian pianist Lucille Chung, who recently made
her Wigmore Hall debut, has a good deal of international
experience. This disc shows her to be a considerable artist,
admirable for her bold choice of music – Ligeti is not,
for most pianists, at the heart of the repertoire – for
her obvious enjoyment of the character of the music, and
for her ease with the extreme technical difficulties posed
by the second book of Etudes (1988-93). There’s more besides:
the skittish Capriccios of 1947, a post-Bachian Invention
of 1948, and the 11 pieces of Musica Ricercata (1951-53),
which progressively encompass first one, then two, then
three pitches, and so on as the cycle proceeds. Gloriously
experimental, this is music of a purity and intellect that
has rather gone out of fashion. More’s the pity.”

Stephen Pettitt

Gramophone Awards Issue,
November 2001

An impressive debut on disc tackles Ligeti’s vertiginous
demands with astonishing ease “György Ligeti will
prompt those who look askance at contemporary music (and
they include a surprising number of prominent musicians)
to think again. For here, in Lucille Chung’s outstanding
recording of Ligeti’s artistic evolution is music to
dazzle, provoke and delight. [...] Ligeti’s demands are,
not surprisingly, ferocious but they are met with imperturbable
clarity and insight by Canadian Chung. She is finely
recorded, and her disc includes an encouraging essay
by Danilo Prefumo.”

Bryce Morrison

Lübeck Nachrichten, Germany,
September 11, 2001

Exciting Opening Piano Recital of the Scharwenka Society “Lübeck-
The concert started about twenty minutes late because
the hall could not be opened in time. A faux pas. But
the audience’s compensation was abundant: Canadian pianist
Lucille Chung filled with enthusiasm continuously. She
started her recital with Beethoven’s lesser know Süssmayr
Variations- highly concentrated with a clear and expressive
touch and penetrating musical imagination. Then Granados’
Quejas, o la Maja y el Ruiseñor hovered lightly
over the audience and with Mendelssohn’s Caprice No.
2 she demonstrated to everybody “for whom the bell tolls”.
Lucille Chung finished the first part of her recital
with two Etudes by György Ligeti, of whom she has
just recorded works on CD (Dynamic). She celebrated “En
Suspens” and ” Der Zauberlehrling” from Book 2 not only
in a convincing manner: she was fascinating! The Liszt
Sonata acknowledged this impression as well. She played
with great power, verve and furiosity, but throughout
intellectually controlled and admirable for her ease
with all the extreme technical difficulties posed by
this piece. Three encores: Prokofiev, Schumann and again
Ligeti: Etude No.13 from Book 2 “L’escalier du diable”.
And it became apparent to the audience that it will hardly
be possible to surpass Lucille Chung’s musical and pianistic
level during the Scharwenka season.”

Alexander Mottok

The Classic Voice, Italy,
November 2001

“La giovane pianista canadese dimostra non solo di avere
una tecnica di ferro, quanto mai necessario per affrontare
questi pezzi, ma anche di avere bien chiaro il valore musicale
della raccolta ligetiana, che costei interpreta in modo
a tratti persino avvincente. La meravigliosa tecnica pianistica
viene ancora più evidenziata nel secondo libro degli
Studi per pianoforte (1988-93) ormai un classico della
letteratura pianistica del XX secolo: s’ascolti la violenza
tellurica con quale la giovane interprete affronta, per
esempio, l’ultimo frammento Columna infinita, una sorta
di terribile moto perpetuo. Ma la Chung risulta anche in
grado di mostare, come anticipato, il valore musicale rivoluzionario
di questi pezzi…”

La Presse, Canada, October 27, 2001

“Among records, the most audacious enterprise is certainly
Lucille Chung’s, who dedicated a disc of about one hour
long to György Ligeti, the Austro-Hungarian who, at
78, is still at the first ranks of avant-garde. Lucille
Chung chose the second book, the Etudes no. 7-14. Instead
of the first book, she completes her disc with older pages:
the two little Capriccios of 1947, the small Invention
of 1948 and the eleven pieces called Musica Ricercata,
of 1953. The 28 year old pianist shows an astonishing affinity
for this music. She brings technical solidity, definition,
sense of color, as well as humour, and a scrupulous respect
of dynamics (Ligeti passes from eight “piano” to eight “forte”!)
and of the suggested timings. She is served by an exceptional
sound take. And when did you ever hear such a clear and
precise sound in the top register of the piano?”

Claude Gingras

Windsor Star, Canada,
April 21, 2001

Soloist adds to lustre of WSO Mozart series “Windsor
Symphony’s Mozart and More series at Assumption Chapel
is a jewel in the orchestra’s crown. And Friday, the
chamber series capped its season with a memorable program
that included the great Mozart Piano Concerto No. 20.
Montreal-born Lucille Chung was the soloist. She launched
her career in the 1980’s at the age of 10 with Orchestre
symphonique de Montréal, and has been actively
promoted by OSM artistic director Charles Dutoit. She
is a very showual performer, animated and expressive.
But that doesn’t distract from her technical prowess
or the quality of her interpretation. Mozart’s great
D minor concerto, K. 466, contains one of his finest
melodies, the beautiful second movement Romanza. And
Chung’s playing was rapturous, notes shaped with precision
but never overwrought. She allowed the movement to speak
its own mind rather than impose her own sensibilities
on it. The fluid playing was evident in the opening and
closing movements, as well, particularly in the cadenzas.
Chung’s temperament seems perfectly suited to the big
romantics, say Grieg or Liszt, and Windsor Symphony would
be smart to get her back soon before she’s out of the
price range.”

Ted Shaw

Winnipeg Free Press,
Canada, January 8, 2001

Pianist Chung versatile, poised Trio of sonatas met
with standing ovation “On Saturday night at the Eckhardt-Gramatte
Hall, Virtuosi Concerts and a large audience welcomed
pianist Lucille Chung to the stage. She brought with
her an ambitious program of sonatas from three distinct
musical eras and proved herself to be a versatile, intelligent
artist. Mozart’s second-last piano sonata – the K. 570
in B Flat major – was Chung’s choice to begin the show.
She handled the Allegro’s rapid-fire runs with fine articulation
and beautiful clarity and she walked a careful line between
classical poise and capricious abandon. Throughout the
Adagio and the Allegretto movements, she took a very
measured approach that both highlighted the gentle corners
while allowing the light and lively moments to sparkle
delicately. [...] Her technique throughout [Prokofiev Sonata
no.2] was rock solid – the hand-crossing effects of the
Scherzo were especially well-detailed – and her reading
was interesting. The Liszt B Minor Sonata is a monster
of a piece requiring a great intellectual effort to shape
its 30-minute, one-movement structure. The three main
themes within the first page of the work are treated
to a kaleidoscopic array of guises and treatments that
test the capabilities of the virtuoso pianist. Chung
attacked the sonata with impressive vigour and produced
some moments of great passion and excitement. Her approach
was somewhat Chopin-esque: her smooth way with some of
the more aggressive sections shed some interesting light
into the work’s many corners. And she displayed impressive
endurance and stamina in sustaining the sonata’s momentum.
A standing ovation brought Chung back to the stage for
a cute little Mendelssohn Caprice Op. 16 No.2 . It will
be interesting to watch this artist grow and mature as
her career takes off.”

Andrew Thompson

Le Soleil, Québec, 5 janvier 2000

“Pleine de moyens, la jeune interprète possède
un pouvoir certain, celui de susciter graduellement l’intérêt
de spectateur, pour finir par le plonger dans une sorte
de joie bienfaisante.”

Richard Boisvert

Nuovo Chienti e Potenza,
Italy, 20 maggio 1999

“Chung ha dimostrato anche grande maturitá con
una esecuzione appassionata che ha saputo rendere magnificamente
le sonoritá complesse e pastose del grande autore
tedesco [Schumann].”

Corrado Zucconi

American Record Guide, Nov./Dec. 1998

“It’s an auspicious debut for Ms. Chung, a first-rate
pianist by any standard and a name to watch”

Young

Le Devoir, Montréal, 20 juin 1998

“… le propos de la jeune pianiste québécoise
se traduit par un jeu perlé d’une séduction
et d’un raffinement constants”

Alain Bénard

New York Concert Review,
Summer, 1996

“…riveting, illuminating, fiery, transcendental pianism…”

Jed Distler

Budapest Week, January 1995

Chung: a concert to remember “The petite pianist
plays with a power twice her size. Twenty years from
now, it won’t be her that you remember, but her performance.”

Istvan Miklosfai

Le Soir, Bruxelles,
le 15 mai 1995

“La séduction enflammée et raffinée
de Lucille Chung … alliant vigueur et souplesse, dans une éloquence
aussi naturelle qu’ élégante”

Michel Debrocq

Thüringen Letzte Zeitung TLZ Weimar,
25 Oktober 1994

“Was dem Zuhörer beim Konzert im Weimarer Nationaltheater
geboten wurde, übertraf alle Erwartungen. Niemals
hatten die vielen Bravo-Rufe an diesem Ort eine grössere
Berechtigung. Lucille Chung spielte mit ungeheuerlicher
Ausdruckdichte, mit Gefühl für die Steigerungsdramaturgie
wie für agogischen Verschränkungen der Teile
und mit unzähligen aparten Klangnuancen, als erzähle
sie eine spannungsvolle Ballade, wobei sie immer wieder
aus eigenhender Form- und Satzanalyse entscheidende Impulse
bezog”

Hans-Jürgen Thiers

The Washington Post,
September 16, 1994

Lucille Chung on the Fast Track “… her performance was
exciting and rewarding… Chung’s blazing gutsy performance
of Prokofiev had just the right humorous intensity”

Arthur R. Smith

The Gazette, Montréal, June 11, 1992

“Chung’s kind of lyrical poise makes a far stronger statement
than the forceful playing that almost every pianist nowadays
thinks mandatory. Chung showed that less could be more.”

Ilse Zadrozny

New Times Soviet Weekly of
World Affairs, February 15, 1991

“Chung’s playing is characterized by an inner freedom
and coloring of sounds
as well as an amazing musical harmony.”

Rena Shereshevskaya

Dong-A Daily Newspaper,
Seoul, November 18, 1989

“Despite her youth, she has a refined manner, the utmost
confidence and grand performing ability. She breathed life
into Mozart [Piano Concerto] no.23 with such liveliness
and intensity that she moved our inner-most feelings and
spirits.”

Straight.com, August 17, 2009 by Alexander Varty

Pianist Lucille Chung showcases The Power of Ligeti

Featuring pianist Lucille Chung. A MusicFest Vancouver presentation. At Christ Church Cathedral on Friday, August 14. No remaining performances

As an introduction to the music of György Ligeti—one of the greatest
composers of the 20th century, yet one who remains an enigma to most
21st-century audiences—Lucille Chung’s afternoon showcase could not have
been better. Although the Hungarian master, who died in 2006, wrote
significant pieces for orchestra, choir, and string quartet, his very
personal sense of sonic architecture is most clearly expressed on the
piano, and Chung’s program allowed her listeners to hear his progress in
a way that thoroughly illuminated his thorny and often dissonant texts.

The Montreal-born keyboardist opened with Capriccios No. 1 and No. 2,
written in 1947 and ‘48, when Ligeti was in his mid 20s and,
presumably, suffering from the aftershock of the Second World War. (A
Hungarian Jew, he served in a forced-labour brigade; his father and
other relatives died in Auschwitz.) The effect here, though, is not one
of horror or mourning. Instead, these pieces feel liberated, almost
joyous—even if they’re not terribly distinctive. They sound exactly like
what they are: works written by a young composer who’s less concerned
with emotional weight than with discovering how many dazzling shapes he
can craft.

From there, Chung moved on to Musica Ricercata, written between 1951
and 1953. In this sprawling work’s 11 brief movements, we hear Ligeti
refining his compositional language, sometimes weighing each of its
constituent parts with an alchemist’s care. The opening “Sostenuto”, for
instance, is all about simplicity and space: it consists of a single
note, A, played in various octave combinations until, close to the end,
the note D enters. However dry and unpromising this might sound, Chung
made the piano sing—a tribute to her skill, but also to the composer’s
musical elegance.

Following “Sostenuto”, a note is added to each successive study,
until in Musica Ricercata’s concluding “Andante misurato e tranquillo”,
dedicated to the baroque composer Girolamo Frescobaldi, Ligeti is
working with the full 12-tone spectrum. This makes the suite as a whole
build in momentum and sonic intricacy, which in turn launched Chung
quite nicely into six selections from Ligeti’s 18-piece keyboard bible,
Etudes pour piano, Books 1, 2, and 3. Penned between 1985 and 2001,
these ranged from the African-inspired “Fém” to the whirling wheel of
perpetual motion that is “L’escalier du diable”, and Chung aced them
all.

The next time the pianist returns, though, it would be good to hear
her in a more suitable venue. Christ Church Cathedral is a gorgeous
building, but it’s impossible to soundproof stained glass, and so the
outside world intruded a bit too much on this weekday-afternoon concert.
That’s a small complaint, however, about what was otherwise a
near-flawless performance of fascinating music.

New York Times, August 12, 2008 by Vivien Schweitzer

“The program included a sparkling rendition of Poulenc’s “Histoire de
Babar,” given a colorful performance by the pianist Lucille Chung and
narrated by Michael York, and John Alden Carpenter’s jazzy, bluesy
“Krazy Kat.” ”

Star-Telegram, Fort Worth, Texas, January 13, 2007

DUOS AND ACES

Pairings make for an enjoyable evening of music at Bass Hall

FORT WORTH — Good things come in pairs. That seemed to be the
overriding theme of Friday evening’s Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra
concert at Bass Hall.

Dallas-based piano duo (and married couple) Alessio Bax and Lucille
Chung were the talented soloists in Mozart’s Concerto for Two Pianos, K.
365. The orchestra and its music director, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, also
made a strong statement with two symphonic works by Robert Schumann.

Mozart’s 250th birth anniversary was last year, but there’s always
room for Mozart, even with a less familiar concerto such as this one. In
the regal key of E-flat, the concerto introduced an element of theater
as Bax and Chung traded licks and the orchestra played backup.

Pianists of great sensitivity, Bax and Chung are equally matched in
virtuosity and temperament — a fact that became abundantly clear in the
first movement’s playful cadenza. Although the intensity of the
music-making seldom registered above room temperature, the pair
compensated with a scintillating encore, an excerpt from Saint-Saens’
Carnival of the Animals.

Standing as bookends in Friday’s concert were Schumann’s early
Overture, Scherzo and Finale, Op. 52, and the Symphony No. 4 in D minor,
Op. 120. The German composer’s symphonic works often lie in the shadow
of his towering piano pieces. But the orchestra made a compelling
argument for these structurally original, often idiosyncratic works.

The three-movement Overture, Scherzo and Finale radiated a breezy
joy. The Fourth Symphony, with its unconventional orchestration, held
the audience’s interest. Both featured the orchestra players in top
form.

Blue Cathedral, by contemporary American composer Jennifer Higdon,
completed Friday’s program. The 12-minute piece has appeared on many
orchestras’ programs. But why? Aside from its novel orchestration
(including Chinese health reflex balls and tuned water goblets) its
neo-Romantic, Coplandesque harmonic language is highly derivative. In
the end, it’s the emotional equivalent of milquetoast.

Fort Worth Symphony

8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday

Bass Hall

Fort Worth

$15-$76

817-665-6000, www.fwsymphony.org

GRADE: A-

Matthew Erikson

Bari Sera, Bari, Italy, June 9, 2006

Bax e la Chung, piano con sentimento

[…] ad aprire, una bravissima Lucille Chung, che quasi mordeva i
tasti del pianoforte, ma a tratti sembrava muovere le dita come in una
danza, con un movimento lieve ma deciso nei suoni. La sua
interpretazione dei brani di Ligeti, ottimo compositore, e’ stata
perfetta. Il pubblico e’ stato conquistato da tanta maestria nel
proporre una musica mai sentita nel nostro territorio: per la prima
volta in una rassegna vengono eseguite le opere del compositore
ungherese. La Chung, la canadese orientale, e’ stata acclamata per le
sue appassionate e raffinate interpretazioni, unendo energia e agilità
con naturale eloquenza ed eleganza. Un tripudio di applausi ha
accompagnato la sua uscita di scena, ma Lucille Chung non ha voluto
risparmiarsi, dando ancora prova della sua bravura chiudendo la sua
esecuzione con un bis […] regalando grandi emozioni in musica,
lasciando a tutti un ricordo esaltante in una calda serata di giugno.
Un ricordo immortale, come la musica ascoltata.

Mario Pontieri

Corriere del Mezzogiorno, Bari, Italy, June 2, 2006

Il bel concerto chiude “Pianoforum”

Bax e Chung al pianoforte in equilibrio fra tecnica e interpretazione emozionante.

La rassegna Pianoforum curata da Emanuele Arciuli per la stagione
2005-2006 della Fondazione Petruzzelli si e’ conclusa mercoledì sera in
Vallisa con un trionfale successo. Protagonisti due ex enfant prodige
della musica, diventati oggi, a pieno titolo pianisti affermati e
apprezzati in tutto il mondo. Stiamo parlando del barese Alessio Bax
(non suonava nella sua città da una decina d’anni) e della canadese
Lucille Chung. I due si sono di recente sposati e risiedono negli Stati
Uniti, a Dallas, dove sono legati da un fruttuoso sodalizio, oltre che
sentimentale, anche artistico. Mercoledì sera si sono divisi il
concerto a meta. Lucille ha suonato un’antologia di Studi per
pianoforte del compositore ungherese (naturalizzato austriaco) Gyorgy
Ligeti, tra i massimi esponenti viventi della neoavanguardia; […] La
Chung ha saputo regalare emozioni forti, di più, autentiche vertigini
del cuore. E’ facile oggi trovare pianisti tecnicamente dotati.[…] Ciò
de invece stupisce [nella Chung] e’ il superamento dello scoglio
tecnico, vissuto sempre con disarmante naturalezza, per approdare alle
profondità piu recondite dei capolavori eseguiti. […] Un concerto
davvero memorabile

Alessandro Romanelli

La Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno, Bari, Italy, June 2, 2006

Al “Pianoforum” con Lucille Chung

Significativo, comunque, pur se non fondato su legami analogici,
l’accostamento con i brani di Ligeti, che hanno aperto la serata,
affidati alle eccezionali mani ed al vibrante temperamento della moglie
di Bax, Lucille Chung.

Si parla spesso di momenti nodali nella storia della letteratura
pianistica. Dopo Chopin, che apri al pianoforte nuove prospettive, si
dovette attendere l’avvento di Debussy, perché aria realmente nuova
spirasse nel genere. E Ligeti e senza dubbio l’ulteriore, moderno
pilastro sul quale può consistentemente poggiare il lungo, glorioso e
mai esausto cammino evolutivo della scrittura pianistica.

Non meno rare le esecuzioni della musica pianistica di Ligeti da
noi, ma, nel ricordo, sicuramente scolpite in maniera decisa. Con le
straordinarie esecuzioni della Chung, si e avuta un’ulteriore
possibilità di ascoltare esemplare musica del nostro tempo, porta con
autorevole e sincera capacita.

Non meno la calorosa l’accoglienza che il pubblico ha riservato alla
Chung che -val la pena sottolinearlo- ha incluso fra i brani
presentati, tutti “studi” alcuni che per Bari erano une “novità”!

Un bis con la Chung, che ha inteso donare al pubblico una sognante e delicata interpresentazione di un Preludio di Scriabin.

Nicola Sbisa

La Repubblica, Italy. June 24, 2005

Ricordi di Ligeti al Pianoforte

Lucille Chung, la pianista canadese che aveva già inciso un primo
disco Dynamic con le opere pianistiche di György Ligeti (Studi secondo
libro, Capriccio 1 e 2, Inventino e Musica Ricercata), completa la
registrazione delle opere di ligeti con un secondo disco dove, oltre al
primo e terzo di Studi (quest’ultimo terminato nel 2004), ci sono
anche i 3 pezzi per due pianoforti e i 5 pezzi per pianoforte a quattro
mani. Lei, ex enfante prodige, pochi anni fa, ha sposato un altro ex
enfant prodige, il barese Alessio Bax. Insieme vivono a Dallas dove lui
è tra gli insegnanti della Methodist University, e insieme hanno
registrato questo importante disco che ha un doppio pregio: ribadire,
per quanto sia ancora necessario, la grandezza del compositore vivente
oggi più venerato (e non solo per gli 82 anni di età spesi con intatto
rigore artistico e morale), e intanto offrire un’esecuzione avvincente
di due raccolte di pezzi pianistici che sono una retrospettiva in
miniatura dello stile ligetiano. I 5 pezzi per pianoforte a quattro
mani (inclusa è una mini sonatine in tre tempi di appena 4 minuti del
1950) sono lo specchio del folklore magiaro degli anni giovanili,
quando Ligeti viveva in un’Ungheria non ancora asservita al regime
comunista e i suoi modelli erano essenzialmente Bartok e Kodaly. I 3
pezzi per due pianoforti, del 1976, risentono appieno della svolta
elettronica. Le voci degli strumenti sono altrettante fasce sonore,
come quelle che il compositore aveva imparato a generare nello Studio
di Fonologia a Colonia. E l’effetto è di un apparente e fallace
immobiliare, perché increspato de invisibili venature che rendono
inquieta l’atmosfera. Tecnicamente i pezzi sono molto impegnativi, ma
la resa è ottima, soprattutto nel secondo dei tre, il cui titolo è
straniante come l’effetto sonoro: “Autoritratto con Reich e Riley (c’è
anche Chopin)”. Reich e Riley sono i campioni dell’incantare, Chopin è
evocato per i prodigi tecnici richiesti nel finale della Sonata no.2.

Fiorella Sassanelli

The Dallas Morning News. September 8, 2005

CLASSICAL MUSIC REVIEW Two-piano recitals aren’t an everyday
occurrence around here. And few such programs anywhere are as lively as
the one presented Wednesday evening by Alessio Bax and Lucille Chung at
Southern Methodist University’s Caruth Auditorium.

Mr. Bax and Ms. Chung, who are married, have both studied with
Joaquín Achúcarro at SMU. First prize winner in the 2000 Leeds
Competition, Mr. Bax is now on the SMU piano faculty. Ms. Chung, a
Montreal native also trained at the Curtis Institute of Music and the
Juilliard School , has several competition prizes to her credit, too.

One of the best things you can say about a piano duo is “they play as
one,” and these two certainly did. They opened with quite a splash, the
late Polish composer Witold Lutoslawski’s two-piano Variations on a
Theme of Paganini. Based on the same violin Caprice as Rachmaninoff’s
famous Rhapsody, Lutoslawski’s 1941 work puts the theme through snazzy
glitters, sassy jabs and dreamy glidings, with more than a little
deviltry along the way.

Next up was Stravinsky’s original piano four-hands version of the complete Petrushka (as opposed to the three movements he later arranged for a single
player). Given the brilliant colors of the familiar orchestral score,
you might expect a piano version to be a pale reflection. But sometimes
inner voices, rhythmic complexities and gently battling tonalities
actually emerge more clearly on the piano.

After intermission came two two-piano arrangements of tangos by
Argentinian composer Astor Piazzola, and a third was offered as an
encore. The razzle-dazzle finale of Darius Milhaud’s Scaramouche was the second encore.

All this was played with great panache, the Petrushka scenes vividly characterized. Ms. Chung got most of the treble parts, and she set them glinting.

SCOTT CANTRELL

Ottawa Sun, Canada. July 24, 2005

“This huge and eclectic program was one of the best opening gala performances
I’ve seen recently… pianist Chung, who can play like fire looked lethal in
a black evening dress.”

Denis Armstrong

La Stampa, Italy. July 29, 2005

“La giovane pianista canadese Lucille Chung, ben accompagnata
per i lavori a quattro mani e su due pianoforti da Alessio
Bax, propone ora un compact disc che segue il percorso
creativo dai primi lavori degli Anni Quaranta e Cinquanta
del Novecento fino ad un’ampia raccolta degli Studi, scritti
dal 1985 al 2001. Gli evidenti influssi – percussivi e
ritmici – di Béla Bartók sulle opere giovanili
aprono la strada ad un cammino più autonomo, anche
se sempre informato e molto divertito nell’orecchiare e
nel «testare» diverse tecniche e poetiche:
ecco il folklore magiaro, filtrato da uno sguardo surreale,
apparire nei ritrattini domestici delle «Tre danze
matrimoniali», mentre nell’«Autoritratto con
Steve Reich e Terry Riley (e c’è anche Chopin)» come
nello Studio intitolato «Disordine» il debito
minimalista è pagato con convinta ironia e in un’insistita
sfrenatezza che accelera fino al parossismo il gusto per
la ripetizione ciclica di una stessa frase.

I tre tempi della «Sonatina» raccontano di un’inventiva capace di
scorci fulminei, caricaturali, che tuttavia lasciano il dubbio della gratuità.
Il Ligeti più personale è quello che appare oltre la maschera dei
travestimenti e delle citazioni, come in «Autunno a Varsavia», dedicato
agli «amici polacchi», chiuso da un repentino, drammatico protagonismo
del registro più grave; «A bout de souffle» – omaggio al film
di Godard – è davvero una corsa all’ultimo respiro, attraversata da frequenti
asimmetrie che spezzano il ritmo, in un velocismo che culmina nelle note più acute
prima di ricominciare dal basso, come risalendo da un precipizio. Lucille Chung
ben restituisce i parossismi del maestro, gli scarti di peso sonoro, le isole
di più meditato fraseggio, l’irriverenza che gli appartiene in sommo grado.”

Sandro Cappelletto

San Francisco Chronicle, Thursday,February 3, 2005

Pianist’s fancy finger work enlivens Ligeti etudes

The major work of composer György Ligeti’s later
years has been a brilliant series of piano etudes, virtuosic
showpieces that combine the models of Debussy and Chopin
with a range of contemporary references. They require a
pianist of rare stamina and technique, and Lucille Chung
is just such a pianist.

Chung’s renditions of seven of these pieces — three selections
from Book2 and all four of the components of Book 3 –
formed the dazzling and all-too-brief high point of an
otherwise hit-or-miss program presented Monday night by
the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players.

Chung has made a specialty of this repertoire — she’s
recorded all three books of the Etudes on the Dynamic label
– and her appearance at the Yerba Buena Center for the
Arts Forum was a bravura display of extroversion and sensitivity.

Like his predecessors, Ligeti uses the etude as a way
of exploring the relationship between technical means and
expressive ends. The pieces are enormously difficult to
play: in some cases because there are so many notes, in
others because there are so few.

Yet each etude uses its particular technical challenges
to create a distinctive world of mood and sonic imagery,
and Chung’s precise and crisply etched renditions conjured
up each one vividly.

She started with a bang, jumping right into the 10th etude, “Der
Zauberlehrling” (”The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”).
It’s an exercise infaster-than- light repeated notes (think
Balakirev’s “Islamey” on speed), in which melodic
figures loom up out of the blur, and Chung’s playing emitted
a jittery glow. “En Suspens,” a plangent jazz
ballad punctuated by aggressive two-note jabs, and the
ferocious melodic ascents of “L’escalier du diable” (”The
Devil’s Staircase”) completed the first set.

If the etudes of Book 2 are single-minded, almost monomaniacal,
in their concerns, those of Book 3 are more expansive and
relaxed. Some are in binary form, with a lyrical opening
giving way to more fiercely energetic writing. The harmonic
language becomes less dissonant (”White on White,”as
its title suggests, seems to be restricted to the white
keys of the piano) and the rhythms, influenced by the intricate
player-piano canons of Conlon Nancarrow, edgier but less
arcane.

Joshua Kosman, Chronicle Music Critic

InternationalPiano, September/October 2004

Ligeti 2-piano pieces

In this second volume of Ligeti”s piano works the Canadian
pianist Lucille Chung is joined on tracks one to twelve
by her future husband Alessio Bax, the 2000 Leeds Piano
Competition winner.

The programme is not only interesting for its own sake
but it also marks the development of Ligeti the composer.
The earliest work, Five Pieces for piano four hands, shows
him advancing his technique and creative ability while
under the influence of Bartók and the indigenous
folk music of his country. The Three Pieces for two pianos,
composed in 1976, after the composer had left Hungary,
move into a different soundworld. Written during the period
when he was composing his opera Le Grand Macabre, these
works – Monument, Selbsportrait and Bewegung – point the
way forward towards compositional techniques and sounds
he would develop in his Etudes.

The full title of the “self-portrait”is Selbstportrait
mit Reich und Riley (und Chopin is auch dabei). While paying
homage to repetitive figuration Ligeti employs a technique
where one hand holds keys down silently thereby creating
spaces in the arpeggios written across them. He uses this
technique again in the etude Touches bloquées (track
15). The reference to Chopin occurs in a hair-raising Presto
near the end of the work. Flanking this central piece is
Monument, aptly described as “abstract immobility”where
the music is laid out to a prescribed set of rules. In
the more flowing Bewegung (”Movement”) the writing is the
reverse of that in Monument. To bring off a first-class
performance, not only do the performers require an incredible
technique and a compatible touch but an innate understanding
of each other. Chung and Bax play memorably as one.

The disc ends with Books One and Three of the Etudes.
Written in 1985, Book One freed the composer from the traumas
of the previous decade. In this and in the subsequent two
volumes Ligeti went on to explore exciting new ideas resulting
is one of the most virtuoso works of the 20th century in
every sense. Throughout, Lucille Chung reveals her exceptional
technical ability and the depths of her musical understanding.
The performance is a tour de force and highly recommended.

Shirley Ratcliffe

American Record Guide July/August 2004

Ligeti 2-piano pieces

[...] I love this pianist’s clear yet buttery approach
to this music- it makes these formidable pieces seem both
inviting and irresistible, as well as intellectually and
technically rigorous. The wonderful early four-hands pieces
are played with appropriate spirit. The later two-piano
pieces (1976) are more familiar Ligeti [...] Chung and
Bax give involved performances in nicely detailed sound.

Gimbel

El Diario Montañés, Santander, August 27, 2004

Prueba superada

Lucille Chung, dueña de sobresalientes medios técnicos
y expresivos, tradujo de forma brillante los ‘Seis estudios
para piano” de Martínez

El Ciclo de Cámara y Recitales del Festival Internacional
de Santander ha tenido como broche el recital de la pianista
canadiense Lucille Chung, quien con carácter absoluto
estrenó los ‘Seis estudios para piano’ de Israel
David Martínez, (Barcelona 1969), obra ganadora
del V Concurso Internacional de Composición Pianística
‘Manuel Valcárcel’ celebrado el ano pasado y convocado
por la Fundación Marcelino Botín.

Como bien indica Luciano González Sarmiento en las
notas al programa, estos ‘Seis estudios para piano’ del
músico catalán, compositor de fecunda trayectoria
creativa, reflejan una actitud expresionista ya conocida
en él y sin olvidas los modelos clásicos
hay también claras referencias a György Ligeti.

Esta obra esta bien estructurada en su aspecto formal,
y hay en ella una sugestiva inventiva controlada. Tiene
riqueza tímbrica y lenguaje que llega en los seis
estudios contrastados. Su autor, presente y aplaudido en
este recital, ha querido escribir una música de
alto virtuosismo, lo que para cualquier intérprete
es una prueba de fuego que Lucille Chung, dueña
de considerables medios técnicos y expresivos, superó sobradamente.
Fue la suya una traducción concienzuda y de cuidada
matización.

Su clara articulación y su acertado concepto fueron
puestos de manifiesto en las ‘8 variaciones sobre un tema
de Süssmayr Wo0.76′ de Beethoven, las siempre poéticas
‘Piezas de Fantasía Op.12′ de Schumann y seis de
los ‘Preludios” de Scriabin, del que tocó también
su poema “Vers la flamme Op.72′, en los que lució admirablemente
su buen decir en el “instrumento rey”.

Richardo Hontañón

El País, August 27, 2004

…” Los seis estudios para piano, escuchados ahora
por vez primera dentro del Festival Internacional de
Santander, han sido interpretados excelentemente por
la concertista canadiense Lucille Chung, discípula
en la Universidad de Dallas de nuestro Joaquín
Achúcarro. El éxito ha sido total y justamente
compartido entre el autor y su intérprete, que
nos ofreció además valiosas versiones de
Beethoven, Schumann y Scriabin. En resumen: una jornada
de las dejan huella prolongada.”

Enrique Franco

Scherzo, July 2004

Scherzo July 2004

“Un Clásico de Nuestro Tiempo”

Joseph Pascual

En la música para piano de Ligeti se aprecian
múltiples influencias; influencias tan diversas
como la música folclórica de sus orígenes,
el jazz, el gran repertorio pianístico de Scarlatti
a Bartók (obviamente con sus amados Liszt, Chopin
y Debussy en medio), las experiencias con los pianos
mecánicos de Conlon Nancarrow, la simplicidad
de un Satie, las músicas no europeas (tanto de
los ritmos africanos como de las delicadas y evocadoras
sonoridades del gamelán), el minimalismo…y,
por supuesto, todo el caudal de este gran maestro, personalidad
indiscutible de la vanguardia europea que llega en sus
Estudios, según sus palabras a un lenguaje que “no
es vanguardista ni tradicional, ni tonal ni atonal”.
Hay mucha y muy diversa música en esta muy representativa
muestra del Ligeti pianístico, un programa que
comprende obras creadas entre 1976 y 2001, acerca del
cual podríamos optar o por el análisis
en profundidad de cada pieza para dar cuenta de su importancia,
o por invitar al hipotético interesado en él
a descubrirlo por sí mismo, a dejarse llevar por
su magia y por una escritura magistral en todos los sentidos.
Optamos, evidentemente por cuestiones de espacio, por
la segunda, pero invitamos a todos aquellos que se acerquen
a este espléndido e interesantísimo compacto
a profundizar en la audición, pues es ésta
una de esas grabaciones que demandan acudir a ella más
de una vez. La experiencia es muy enriquecedora. Las
versiones, a cargo de dos excelentes pianistas, son de
lo mejor que pueda encontrarse, y eso que hay competencia
del mas alto nivel que todo buen aficionado conoce y
con la cual esta puede parangonarse.

Musicweb UK, May 2004

Lucille Chung is obviously a young lady of no ordinary
talent. She has bravely chosen to record the piano works
of György Ligeti and therefore treads directly into
the territory of Pierre-Laurent Aimard, that composer’s
interpreter par excellence. Aimard’s fairly recent accounts
of Ligeti at the Wigmore Hall (October last year,) still
ring in the ears – they made an extraordinary impression.
It takes a special sort of bravery, there is no other word
for it, to tackle these scores head-on. The very sight
of the printed page will scare most off. To interpret them
with musicality and intelligence, as Lucille Chung has
done, is no small achievement.

Book II of the Etudes, in case you are wondering, was
included in her first Ligeti disc for Dynamic (CDS358).
Impressive programming, then, to present the remaining
two books we have so far, along with some works for two
pianos (the Drei Stücke) and piano duet (the Fünf
Stücke).

The Six Etudes that make up Book 1 constitute some of
the most inspired piano writing of the twentieth century.
No small claim, true, but every time I hear them I realise
there is more to discover, a seemingly infinite well of
ideas. The first, ‘Désordre’, is nightmarish for
the pianist in its relentless speed. Chung opts to present
it almost like a Nancarrow player-piano piece (Aimard brought
more of a sense of shape, and also excitement, to it),
yet at the climax (1′30), she sounds a little careful.

Chung’s strengths lie in the creation of the beautiful
in sound, so the second Etude, ‘Cordes à vide’,
is a crystalline drawing. ‘Touches bloquées’ is
the most impressive of the set, however, a Ligeti playful
Scherzo if ever there was one. Similarly the obsessive
scalic fragments against legato chordal figures of ‘Fanfares’
is great fun. The fanfares are recognisable. You can almost
hear Chung thinking ‘horns!’ as she plays.

Alas ‘Arc en ciel’ is less successful, probably because
Chung seems to try to apply Chopinesque rubato to music
that won’t take it. A shame, as she evidently realises
the sheer beauty of the harmonies; the glittering descents
of ‘Automne à Varsovie’ almost make up for it.

Chung responds well to the varied demands of the four
Etudes from Book 3 here. The slow-moving, hyper-beautiful
‘White on White’ (1995) is really lovely, ending like a
music-box winding down. The more martellato ‘Pour Irina’
(composed for Darmstadt, so perhaps the ‘harder’ exterior
should be unsurprising) reveals Chung’s finger-strength.
I just can’t decide whether the end is supposed to be cheeky
or not – maybe Chung couldn’t, either.

The manic ‘A bout de souffle’ is more relentless writing.
Here more mania from Chung would be welcome. The piece
should surely sound as if the player or the composer is
experiencing wild panic. That quality should be communicated
to the audience, especially as it would make an even more
marked contrast to the final ‘Canon’ whose glacial beauty
Chung projects well.

The disc kicks off with two sets for piano duo and piano
duet. The Drei Stücke for two pianos is less demanding
fare, with its deliberately irritating repeated octaves
in the first piece (’Monument’) before the two players
gradually part company. The more approachable, teasing,
Ligeti is present in ‘Selbstportrait mit Reich und Riley
(und Chopin ist auch dabei’) with its nod to minimalism,
becoming skittish before turning, later, to the violent.
The delicate final piece, (’In fliessender Bewegung’) reverses
the process of ‘Monument’, the players beginning apart
and slowly congealing into a disembodied chorale. All is
here crystal clear, although there is a characteristic
‘ping’ to some of the upper notes – characteristic, that
is, of the Yamaha pianos used throughout this disc.

The Five Pieces are sweetly Bartókian, even attaining, in the last
of the ‘Three Wedding Dances’ that together constitute the third piece, the
carefree. Only the second piece, ‘Polifón etüd’ (’Polyphonic
Etude’) is truly grey.

Highly recommended, then. Do try to hear the smaller
pieces at least once as they afford much delight, but it
is the Etudes that provide the main course, and very filling
they are, too.

Colin Clarke

Classic Voice May 2004

***** 5 Stars

György Ligeti ha sempre perseguito uno stile assolutamente personale,
che ne fa uno dei grandi maestri del nostro tempo. La brava pianista canadese
Lucille Chung da tempo s’è dedicata alla musica pianistica dell’ungharese:
questo suo secondo cd è incentrato sul Primo e Terzo Libro dei Studi,
ai quali s’accompagnano la Sonatina, i Cinque pezzi per pianoforte a quattro
mani (lavoro d’apprendistato, risalente agli anni cinquanta, prima dell’abbandono
dell’Ungharia) e i Tre pezzi per due pianoforti (1976), che invece appartengono
al Ligeti maturo. Estremamente interessante, soprattutto, il secondo di questi
pezzi, intitolatoAutoritratto con Reich e Riley (c’è anche Chopin),
che interpola lo stilo ripetitivo dei minimalisti (Steve Reich e Terry Riley)
assieme alle microvariazioni tipiche del proprio stile, senza dimenticare
la virtuosità chopiniana. Ottima l’esecuzione del due pianistico Chung/Alessio
Bax, che mette in luce l’aspetto meccanico e costruttishowta di questo ironico
lavoro. La Chung, poi, dimostra un pianismo d’acciaio nell’esecuzione dei
difficilissimi Studi, ciascuno dei quali affronta un problema tecnico particolare,
sulla scia degli originali chopiniani. Lo Studio n.1 del primo libro (sottotitolato
Disordine), per esempio, chiede all’esecutore un asimmetria ritmica tra mano
destra e sinistra d’incredibile difficoltà , anche e soprattutto sotto
l’aspetto mentale e nervoso. La pianista canadese, come accennato, domina
questa musica non dall’alto di una tecnica granitica, ma anche grazie a un
chiaro, cristallino pensiero musicale.

Carmelo Di Gennaro

International Record Review April 2004

This completes Lucille Chung’s survey for the Dynamic
label of the complete Etudes of György Ligeti, the
three books of which comprise 18 pieces (the first disc,
CDS358, containing the second book of Etudes, the Musica
Ricercata and three very short pieces, was issued in
2001). In my humble opinion, Ligeti’s Etudes constitute
the most important music for solo piano written in the
last quarter of a century, a staggering addition to the
repertory, and declaring the composer to be in the very
front rank of today’s creative artists.

I trust that interested readers will have acquired
Richard Steinitz’s outstanding recent study of this composer
(Faber and Faber, reviewed in October 2003). This detailed
volume is not at all expensive (£25.00), is very
well written and offers valuable insights, not least
in Professor Steinitz’s commentaries on Ligeti’s solo
piano music.

Chung much impressed me at her Wigmore Hall début
in London in September 2001, in music ranging from Beethoven’s
rare Süssmayr Variations to Prokofiev’s Second Sonata
and the Liszt Sonata- plus a selection from Ligeti’s
Etudes. It was clear then that this young Canadian pianist
is more than gifted, a judgment borne out by her Ligeti
recordings, and on this latest one she is joined by an
outstanding young Italian, the 2000 Leeds Piano Competition
First Prize winner Alessio Bax, in Ligeti’s music for
two pianists. These latter works comprise the Drei Stücke
for two pianos and Fünf Stücke (the five being
‘Induló’, Polifón etüd’, ‘Három
lakodalmi tánc’, the Sonatina’ and tiny ‘Allegro’)
for piano duet.

In the two books (1 and 3) of Etudes Chung is quite
remarkable: technically, for this music she has no peer;
her clarity, musical taste and command of Ligeti’s varying
moods are most impressive. These ideal performances are
prefaced on this disc by the music for two pianists,
and one has to say that whoever put these players together
knew what he or she was doing. I am sure that Ligeti
himself was thrilled to hear their realization of his
relatively more elliptical works- a fine present for
his eightieth birthday celebrations, captured for all
time in splendid sound. The Naxos disc of Books 1 and
2 from Idil Biret is very good indeed, but I am in little
doubt that Chung has the comparative edge.

The music is brilliant throughout: moving, amusing,
outstandingly well imagined and realized in keyboard
terms: who wouldn’t want to sample pieces called ‘White
on White’, “Autumn in Warsaw’, ‘Self-portrait with
Reich and Riley (and Chopin is also there)’, alongside
such compellingly concentrated pieces as the ‘Sonatina’
for piano duet? This is an important record, excellently
produced and strongly recommended.

Robert Matthew-Walker

Répertoire, April 2004

R10

Voici un choix dans la musique de Ligeti qui relève du festival, et
de l’éblouissement. Ses Trois pièces pour deux pianos, ses
Etudes (premier et troisième livre) empruntent la joyeuse complexité rythmique
de l’Americano-mexicain Conlon Nancarrow. La dix-septième, fascinante
et déséquilibrée comme les autres, affiche même
comme titre A bout de souffle (Godard) … Les Cinq pièces à quatre
mains ont en revanche cet hiératisme modeste et grinçant qui
est la patte d’Erik Satie. Parmi elles, la Sonatine cite le fameux Sextuor
pour vents de Ligeti lui-même. Sans compter, bien sûr, le compatriote
et aîné Bartók qui affleure partout … Aucun malaise à cela
: Ligeti reconnaît volontiers ses emprunts, comme ceux aux Pygmées
ou à Bach, car il les sublime chaque fois. C’est la force des très
grands maîtres que de dépasser les modes ou influences qui traversent
la société au temps où ils la vivent. Picasso fut cubiste
aussi bien que néoclassique, car il fut d’abord Picasso.

Ligeti détient le privilège rare d’atteindre cet immémorial
où plus rien n’est trop neuf ni trop vieux…La Québécoise
Lucille Chung vit ce prestige dans sa chair. Fille d’une très vieille
culture et citoyenne d’un pays jeune, elle allie la science à la spontanéité,
avec une technique inshowible. C’est tout l’art du naturel. Mais Lucille
Chung évite pour autant l’artifice, elle n’en a pas besoin. Ainsi,
pour les pièces à quatre mains ou à deux pianos, elle
préfère la présence et la complicité de l’excellent
Alessio Bax à on ne sait quel subterfuge de studio qui la verrait
confrontée au temps décalé et…à elle-même.
On se souvient des Etudes pour piano (livres 1 et 2) superbement interprétées
par Erika Haase (Tacet 53, note 9), mais Lucille Chung sait leur apporter,
en plus de ses autres vertus pianistiques, cette curiosité, ces sens
en éveil, en même temps qu’une fragilité, une fausse
incertitude dans la perfection (l’agogique) qui sont le signe d’une belle
francité. Déjà saluée deux fois d’un 10 par Répertoire
(Ligeti CDS 358, Scriabin CDS 416), Lucille Chung mérite de l’être
une troisième fois. Bien sûr son jeu délicat ne fait
pas oublier la place tutélaire de Pierre-Laurent Aimard, souverain
dans sa manière de révéler les plans infinis de l’art
de Ligeti (Sony, noté 10 dans Répertoire no.98) Lucille Chung
la complète crânement avec son regard à elle, et c’est
très bien ainsi.

Jean Vermeil

Le Monde de la musique, April 2004

” Deux ans après avoir enregistré,
déjà pour le label Dynamic, le Deuxième
Livre des Etudes pour piano et quelques autres pages de
jeunesse (Capriccios, Invention, Musica Ricercata), l’excellente
pianiste québécoise Lucille Chung, offre
des interprétations tout aussi remarquablement maîtrisés
des Etudes nos.1 à 6 (Premier Livre) et nos 15 à 18
(Troisième Livre). Sa lecture virtuose et expressive
de ces œuvres techniquement redoutables mais d’une grande
fraîcheur d’invention en souligne avec bonheur la
subtilité et la dimension poétique. Les œuvres
pour deux pianos ou piano à quatre mains avec Alessio
Bax sont aussi bien servies. ”

Patrick Szersnovicz

CD Classics, April 2004

“Lucille Chung, che qui (seconda, dopo il solo Pierre-Laurent
Aimard, credo) fa ascoltare gli ultimi studi di Ligeti
(finora solo in manuscritto), arriva in sala di registrazione
col suo partner Alessio Bax-giovane pianista ma già d’alto
lignaggio- per l’esecuzione, appunto del trittico succinato
e dei Cinque pezzi per pianoforte a quattro mani, dello
stesso autore: che sono decisamente pagine di uno stile
molto anteriore a quello che di lui oggi maggiormente conosciamo.
In queste esecuzioni, soprattuto in quella del ‘trittico’,
la resa timbrica e il rapporto dinamico dei due strumenti
appare realmente ideale, anche per una concezione del suono
che, rispetto ad esempio a quella delle due pianiste dell’altro
disco, si dimostra più attenta all’elemento edonistico
di questa scrittura. Elemento edonistico che la Chung,
da sola, afferma con convizione negli studi, in particolare
negli ultimi straordinari. Sorprendente questa rincorsa
tra il compositore, che anno dopo anno sforna i suoi studi,
senza pubblicarli subito ma permettendone la conoscenza,
e alcuni giovani interpreti che fanno a gara, in concerto
e in disco, per accaparrarseli!”

Riccardo Risaliti

American Record Guide January/February 2004

Ottawa Festival Goes Monster

Ten Pianists Having Fun

…” Alessio Bax and Lucille Chung performed two movements
of Rachmaninoff Suite no.2 for two pianos. Here was perhaps
the purely musical highlight of the evening: a huge dynamic
range, unity of conception, a carefully paced climb to
the climax of the ‘Romance’ and powerful swirls of sounds
in the ‘Tarantella’ united in a lucid and deeply moving
musical experience.”

Robert Markow

Shenzhen Daily, March 2, 2004

Canadian Pianist’s Versality Shines in SZ

CANADIAN pianist Lucille Chung staged two passionate
and heartening recitals at the Huaxia Arts Center last
Thursday and Friday. This was the first time Chung played
in China and she was especially impressed by the many young
faces in her audiences.

What makes Chung’s performance special is her versatility.
Her repertoire includes classic, romantic and contemporary
music. Ms. Chung’s performance shows that she is a pianist
of marked individuality who has a good mastery of technical
skills, and who is capable of embodying her understandings
and feelings with these refined skills.

Chung held another recital in Guangzhou last Saturday. She is scheduled to
return to China at the end of this year for another tour.

Newman Huo

The Forthnightly Tenerife News, April 24, 2004

Breathless

The musical part of the programme followed, with
a good but often breathlessly fast performance of the Liszt
First Piano Concerto. The soloist was Canadian-born Lucille
Chung, and her exemplary technique was immediately evident
from the first solo entries after a strong orchestral introduction.
She is obviously extremely talented, and able to combine
delicacy of touch with a contrasting power which defies
her slight stature. The first movement produced some excellent
playing from both the OST and soloist, with the slow movement
beginning with some excellent string tone, coupled with
some good smooth playing from the piano. The finale was
taken at a faster speed than normal, but, despite a few
wayward tempo changes from Ms. Chung, the conductor and
the orchestra accompanied well, and the audience was treated
to a well-deserved encore.

TORONTO STAR , Jan. 29, 2004

Musicians’ fantasies dazzle the ears

JOHN TERAUDS

TORONTO STAR

Four young pianists came out to share their fantasies
with an intimate audience on Tuesday night. And it was
memorable. (But perhaps not in that sort of way.) The CBC
had assembled four of the best young Canadian-born keyboard
virtuosi – Vancouverite Libby Yu, Torontonian David Louie,
Montrealer David Jalbert and Montreal-born Lucille Chung
– at the Glenn Gould Studio for a program of classical
music written outside the usual formal structures, hence
the term “fantasy.” This program spanned Bach to Rachmaninov,
in many cases giving an airing to works which rarely see
the concert stage or recording studio. A special treat
was having more than one performer, which gave extra insight
into the different style each artist brings to a performance.
Without a doubt the best came last, when Chung sat down
to play Robert Schumann’s Op. 12 Fantasiestücke (Fantasy
Pieces). These eight pieces are sometimes brash, sometimes
lyrical and always melodic. But the melodies and musical
motifs are buried inside clusters of notes which all too
often get in the way of a performance. It’s the most difficult
kind of music: something complex that should sound simple.
The Dallas resident rose to the challenge, delivering the
most convincing interpretation of this work this reviewer
has heard. Chung’s phrasing was impeccable and she always
had a clear sense of each piece’s musical arc. Chung exudes
grace and poise at the keyboard, directing all of her energy
toward making the music speak clearly. The Rimouski-born
Jalbert is one to watch, if his performance of Haydn’s
C Major Fantasie (Hob XVII/4) and Rachmaninov’s Five Fantasy
Pieces Op. 3 are any indication. Winner of the first prize
in the 1997 Montreal Symphony competition and second prize
in the 1999 CBC Competition and a recent graduate of the
Royal Conservatory’s Glenn Gould Professional school, Jalbert
displayed wonderful purpose and poise in two very different
styles. He delivered a Haydn that was forceful without
being heavy, and was suitably moody in his interpretation
of Rachmaninov’s first five published pieces. Only the
second of the Rachmaninov pieces, called “Prélude,” is
performed regularly, but the others make for interesting
listening, from the great wallow of the opening “Elégie,” to
the Iberian-tinged closing “Sérénade.” The
musical motifs the 19-year-old Rachmaninov lays out here
are heard again and again in his later compositions, with
ever-increasing sophistication. Yu romanticised J.S. Bach’s
odd Chromatic Fantasia And Fugue In D Minor (BWV 903) with
wonderful effect, but remained too controlled and distant
to make a dent in Chopin’s roiling Op. 49 Fantasy. Mozart’s
C-minor Fantasia (KV 475) is uncharacteristically jumbled
and unfocused, and Louie didn’t make a compelling case
why this piece should be performed. On the other hand,
the Toronto pianist ended the first half of the program
with a heroic rendition of Liszt’s spectacular “Norma” Fantasy
(S394), which colours the highlights of Bellini’s opera
with great keyboard fireworks. Here Louie could show off
his prodigious technique to great effect. Had he added
a bit of rubato for dramatic nuance – surely a good thing
in Romantic music – the performance would have been fabulous.
This excellent recital will be broadcast as part of CBC’s
OnStage series on March 28. Radio Two airs it at 2:05 p.m.,
Radio One at 8:05 p.m. It’s well worth the listen. David
Jalbert is back in town for the Women’s Musical Club on
March 25 at 1:30 p.m. at Walter Hall. You may want to skip
work that day

The Globe and Mail , January 30, 2004

One fantastic evening of piano

OnStage: Piano Fantasy

At Glenn Gould Studio In Toronto on Tuesday

Generally, one of the surest bets in classical Toronto is that CBC Radio’s
OnStage series will provide entertaining, creative musical programming. And
Tuesday’s concert at the Glenn Gould Studio proved true to form…

Lucille Chung, now based in Dallas, opened up with real skill and taste the
amazingly intricate emotional and creative world of Robert Schumann’s Fantasiestucke,
Op. 12 (by far the best music on the program).

ROBERT HARRIS

Musical Pointers, UK. December 2003

György Ligeti

DREI STÜCKE FÜR ZWEI KLAVIERE; FÜNF STÜCKE FÜR KLAVIER
ZU VIER HÄNDEN(Works for two pianos and piano four hands with ALESSIO
BAX, piano)

ÉTUDES POUR PIANO, PREMIER et TROISIÈME LIVRE (Lucille Chung, solo
piano)

Dynamic CDS 434

This is a a delightful CD, cleverly compiled and ordered;
also a pleasing family memento, because we are told that
in this second volume the young Canadian pianist Lucille
Chung, who completes with it her recording of all Ligeti’s
piano output, has collaborated with her husband-to-be,
Leeds 1st prizewinner Alessio Bax in the works for two
pianos and piano four hands. Their rapport, colouration,
simultaneous chording and transparancy of textures (on
Yamaha pianos) is remarkable, and the whole thing has a
joyous feeling of delight in youthful virtuosity, with
Ligeti’s never far absent sense of humour often in evidence.

They begin with the three innovative and mature pieces
for duo-pianos from the mid-’70s, then do wonders with
the much earlier Bartokian five pieces for piano duet,
showing a crisp articulation which should bring them into
the recital for that humble domestic medium, which is now
coming back to favour largely because of the recognition
of the marvellous quality of Schubert’s contribution to
the genre.

The last pieces of that early set of duets are quite
testing, then follows the first of the still expanding
Books of Études which have won a place in the repertoire
as central as those of Chopin and Debussy. Unless you are
keeping tabs on the track list, you would not immediately
realise that this increase in complexity is achieved by
two hands, not four!

These pieces of Books One and Three are an inexhaustible source of pleasure,
whether fumbling to decipher the scores (which require one’s brain to split
into two) at the keyboard, or listening to the increasing range of recordings;
everyone aspiring to be a “contemporary pianist” has to try to master them.
They are characterised well, as is the other music included, in Danio Prefumo’s
notes, likewise in the earlier volume. Lucille Chung and Alessio Bax have
excellent websites, worth showiting for fuller background, and including
a wide range of reviews. For the first (you should certainly purchase them
as a pair) I cannot do better than to endorse Stephen Pettitt’s opinion in
The Sunday Times:

” – - This disc shows her to be a considerable artist,
admirable for her bold choice of music – Ligeti is not,
for most pianists, at the heart of the repertoire – for
her obvious enjoyment of the character of the music, and
for her ease with the extreme technical difficulties posed
by the second book of Etudes (1988-93). There’s more besides:
the skittish Capriccios of 1947, a post-Bachian Invention
of 1948, and the 11 pieces of Musica Ricercata (1951-53),
which progressively encompass first one, then two, then
three pitches, and so on as the cycle proceeds. Gloriously
experimental, this is music of a purity and intellect that
has rather gone out of fashion. More’s the pity.”

© Peter Grahame Woolf

Winnipeg Free Press, October 25, 2003

On Saturday night, Harry Strub’s Virtuosi Concerts series
came up with a new approach to its normal recital evenings.
Not only did Lucille Chung come to entertain the patrons
with her impressive piano playing, but she also paused
in between each piece to step up to the microphone and
introduce her repertoire and her musical ideas to the audience.
It was a very successful endeavour. This concert with commentary
from the guest artist got off to a nice start with an appetizer
from Beethoven. His Eight Variations on the Trio Tandlen
und Scherzen is, frankly, not particularly familiar territory
for most listeners. However, Chung’s easy commentary on
its operatic genesis and Viennese influences opened the
door nicely for the audience. Chung’s interpretation of
the pieces was elegant and expressive and she enjoyed emphasizing
the dynamic contrasts in the variations. Her singing tone
was evident throughout as she rang out the melody beautifully.
While her performance was not improshowational in nature,
she did organize the music in convincing fashion. The remainder
of the first half was taken up with pieces from Schumann’s
Fantasiestucke Opus 12. Again, after a nice verbal introduction
to the works, she proceeded to demonstrate a real sense
of melody. Her take on Des Abends was a lesson in pedalling
and the need to sing a melody extravagantly over a chordal
accompaniment. But she did not lack for power and passion
either: Aufschwung and In der Nacht were idiomatic and
romantic, and the note-spinning difficulties of Traumeswirren
were attacked with fleet abandon. The second half was quite
interesting and featured a lot of music that really ought
to be better known: Morel’s Etude de Sonorite No. 2 reminded
one of a Ligeti etude in its wild pianistic effects and
pyrotechnics. Chung’s threw herself into it with abandon
and truly brought it off well. Its sonorities took advantage
of the piano’s geography and resonance perfectly and it
possessed a depth beyond its rowdy surface. Chung also
proved herself to be a fine Scriabin player in her selection
of nine preludes from the Opus 11 and Opus 16 sets. Her
ability to dive into each brief sound world with total
dedication was very fine indeed, and her sense of Scriabin’s
languid and perfumed romanticism was innate. At press time,
she was about to begin Liszt’s Spanish Rhapsody, which
is a very demanding and exciting work: a perfect ending
to an evening that was interesting not only for its playing,
but also for its programming and its commentary

Andrew
Thompson

Neue Musikzeitung, July/August 2003

“Das Profil des Festivals hat sich mittlerweile verändert
– zugunsten seiner Attraktivität -, und zwar weil
junge, aber bereits international erfahrene Talente wie
Lucille Chung dort auftreten. Die in Kanada geborene zierliche
Pianistin erntete publizistische Superlative für ihre
Aufnahmen der “Études” von György Ligeti, von
denen sie drei mit feinem Sensorium und stupender Energie
aus Anlass seines 80. Geburtstags am 28. Mai spielte. Eine
aktuelle Reverenz. Und eine weitere an Sergej Prokofieff
zum 50. Todestag. Die Klaviersonate Nr. 2 (1912) entwickelte
sich bei Lucille Chung zum Tornado, sowohl auf den Tasten
als auch in ihrem Gesicht, das die schroffe Kinematik dieses
Werkes wie einen inneren Film reflektierte. Und dann, wie
im Auge des Wirbelsturms: sanfte “Préludes” von
Alexander Skrja-bin. Völlig souverän in beiden
Extremen konnte Lucille Chung auch die härtesten Skeptiker überzeugen.”

Hans-Dieter
Grünefeld

Resmusica, July 2003

” Scriabine, créateur mystique, excentrique, reste
encore par trop délaissé en France. Il n’est
que de constater le manque d’égard envers ses trois
Symphonies, par exemple. En revanche, il est davantage
servi par le disque. Lucille Chung peut s’enorgueillir
de bouleverser la discographie existante. Cette ex-enfant
prodige affronte, à dix ans (en 1983), le dix-neuvième
Concerto pour piano de Mozart avec l’Orchestre Symphonique
de Montréal : débuts prometteurs laissant
augurer d’une personnalité attachante. L’objet du
nouveau CD est d’offrir un florilège de pièces
pour piano d’une difficulté démoniaque. Après
un album Ligeti, l’artiste canadienne au charmant minois
nous convie à une vivifiante randonnée en
compagnie de Scriabine au langage résolument moderne,
voire futuriste. Elle gravit, avec feu et brio, ses sentiers
escarpés aux sinuosités éprouvantes.
Mutine, Lucille Chung confie un jour à la presse
avec une humilité teintée d’humour, le profil
du récital idéal selon elle : outre Ligeti,
son interprète de dilection, semble t-il, elle convoquerait
Scriabine, Liszt et la Fantaisie de Schumann. Le présent
enregistrement fait office de ” divertissement “, de saine
récréation alliée au bonheur de partager
sa passion ! Les terrifiants écueils de ces partitions
extrêmes ne la déstabilisent pas outre mesure.
Lucille Chung déjoue chaque piège avec une
apparente et déconcertante facilité. Récusant
tout hédonisme sonore, elle aménage des passerelles
et de secrètes affinités avec diverses esthétiques
passées ou à venir. Les Préludes de
l’opus 11 sont vingt-quatre gemmes jaculatoires ; certains
d’entre eux – écoutez les plages 5, 8, 16 – trahissent
une dette évidente envers Chopin. Par-delà la
rigoureuse architecture qui les sous-tend, l’artiste d’origine
coréenne épouse avec spontanéité,
panache, la rare complexité des pièces qu’elle
a sélectionnées, leur atypique polymorphisme
: méditatif, torturé, révolté,
transi, lunatique, languide. Elle pare ses vitraux pianistiques
de furtives couleurs impressionnistes, voire post-wagnériennes.
Jusque dans les pages nerveuses ou agressives, elle réussit
la gageure de dessiner de lumineuses aquarelles fauréennes,
sans chercher à martyriser la ligne instrumentale,
ni se départir d’une sensibilité exacerbée.
Toute la modernité du musicien showionnaire surgit
tout à coup, au gré d’un prélude de
l’opus 16 (plage 25) , elle décrypte avec un art
consommé des nuances symbolistes, un énigmatique
poème debussyste. Dans les Danses de l’opus 73,
apparaissent en filigrane les œuvres avant-gardistes de
Mossolov), voire de Schulhoff. Le sommet du disque est
le poème flamboyant Vers la flamme, miniature fantastique
qui rappelle le Liszt ultime, celui de la Bagatelle sans
tonalité de 1885. Partition audacieuse, fascinante, à la
tonalité erratique, il y règne une ardente
ivresse chromatique, des volutes harmoniques reptiliennes, épileptiques.
Le piano est acculé dans ses ultimes retranchements.
Cette pièce pourrait avoir été composée
par un névrosé ayant quitté depuis
longtemps les sphères du rationnel, ou un dangereux
psychopathe du clavier, sous effet d’un narcotique puissant.
C’est un sans faute de Miss Chung, qui réalise l’exploit
de disqualifier Horowitz lui-même (Sony classical).
Elle dévoile ici encore une agilité technique
spectaculaire qui ne showe jamais l’effet superfétatoire,
et relie Vers la flamme à deux autres partitions
tout aussi démentielles : la fantaisie orientale
Islamey de Balakirev et le Scherzo diabolico de Charles
Valentin Alkan. Jeu frondeur, dévastateur, rebelle
de Lucille Chung, en complète communion avec l’essence ” occulte ” de
ce morceau illuminé. Celui-ci s’apparente à un
rituel orgiaque, une bacchanale luciférienne, une
messe noire. Scriabine est-il attiré par le surnaturel,
les sciences ésotériques et divinatoires,
ce que l’on nomme aujourd’hui le style ” gore ” ou ” trash ” ?
En tout cas, pour la frénésie cosmique de
ces 4 mn 59 s., il faut posséder ce disque. Rarement
pianiste se révèle investie d’un tel sens
foudroyant de la pulsation… symphonique. J’ajoute à cela
appoggiatures hoquetantes, netteté des attaques,
grandeur épique, précision des reliefs et
surplombs mélodiques, rejet de toute lecture ultra
cérébrale et de virtuosité hyper calculée.
Un apport majeur de la discographie de ce romantique tardif.
Dans l’attente programmée d’un enregistrement d’Olivier
Messiaen, la digitalité caressante de Lucille Chung
serait idéale pour certains poèmes français
pour piano, tel le Chant de la Mer, ballade marine de Gustave
Samazeuilh. ”

Etienne Müller

Classical CD Source, July 2003

“Scriabin’s piano music is virtuosic, ingenuously romantic
and darkly modern by turns; a whole disc of it represents
a diverse challenge to the performer. Lucille Chung is
at her best at the opening of the disc, the 24 Preludes,
Op.11. Her singing legato tone and her winning simplicity
are ideal vehicles for the poetic themes of preludes 2,
4, 5 and 7 or, indeed, the opening prelude of the five
of Op.16. Op.11/4 gives an especially good idea of the
beauties of Chung’s phrasing. Nor does she lack the technique
to convey the virtuosity of preludes such as Nos.3, 6 or
14 of Op.11 or the precision needed for Op.16/2. . Genuine
simplicity succeeds in a prelude such as Op.16/4. Lucille
Chung is Canadian, born in Montreal, and already has a
reputation for playing contemporary music; she has an impressive
list of recital and concerto appearances. It is certain
her many talents will bring her future success. The sound
here is fine and open, if over-bright at times. Nevertheless,
this is a recommendable CD, which is immaculately presented.”

Ying Chang

Répertoire, April 2003

“Le programme de ce disque confronte le premier et le
dernier Scriabine. D’un côté le vaste cycle
des 24 Préludes op.11, d’inspiration chopinienne,
et les 5 Préludes op.16 de la même veine,
de l’autre les quatre opus ultimes publiés par le
compositeur, pages étranges et mystérieuses,
au seuil de l’atonalité. La pianiste canadienne
Lucille Chung, déjà couronnée d’un
10 de Repertoire pour un récital Ligeti chez le
même éditeur, joue toutes ces oeuvres de manière
merveilleusement musicale, excellant à démêler
le fil de ces mélodies sinueuses et subtiles. Le
piano de Scriabine est assez rarement – et souvent mal-
enregistré: un tel disque apparaît donc comme
une bénédiction pour l’amateur qui a si peu à se
mettre sous la dent! Ainsi, pour le cycle des 24 Préludes
op.11, à moins de retrouver les albums déjà anciens
de Kun Woo Paik (Dante), Billy Eidi (Adda), Paul Komen
(Globe) ou Josette Morata ( REM), nous ne disposons guère
que de l’intégrale en deux CD de Yevgueni Zarafiants
chez Naxos (notés respectivement 8 et Recommandé dans
les Nos 138 et 150), fort honnête mais pas totalement
séduisante, largement surclassée ici en tout
cas. Les prestations de Lucille Chung se comparent en effet
sans complexe à celles des plus grands pianists,
qui ne nous ont souvent laissé que des miettes.
Hormis le génial mais mal enregistré Sofronitzki,
nous disposons par exemple de sept des Préludes
op.11 gravés par Horowitz (RCA)- ou de seize par
Andrei Gavrilov (EMI)-, des deux Danses op.73 par Ashkenazy
(Decca) et par Richter (Philips, avec Vers la flamme op.72),
etc. Outre une capitation sonore moderne plus satisfaisante,
et malgré des conceptions souvent proches, les interprétations
de Lucille Chung se caractérisent par un allégement
de la pâte sonore showant la transparence, une retenue
dynamique, une manière d’intérioriser les
emportements (cf. le Prélude op.11 no.8, exemplaire à cet égard).
On y trouve un peu moins de tension que chez Horowitz,
mais advantage d’envoûtement sonore, de douceur pénétrante,
de confidences chuchotées. Bref, ce disque est un
véritable enchantement.”

Philippe van den Bosch

Ritmo, Spain, March 2003

“El dedicado a Scriabin me ha parecido espléndido:
versiones de charácter pero delicadas, algo consustancial
al piano del autor de Poema del éxtasis. Pero más
me ha sorprendisdo el otro, con difíciles obras
de Ligeti, en el que la Chung muestra mucho más
que dedos: hay afinidad con el lenguaje del austro-húngaro,
pero sobre todo lo que hay en las versiones es criterio
y madurez. En fin, Lucille Chung es una desconocida entre
nosotros, pero anoten el nombre: tiene ya carrera, pero
probablemente lo mejor esté por venir.”

P.G.M.

International Record Review, April 2003

“Lucille Chung’s first Dynamic recording, which featured
Ligeti’s Second Book of Études along with various
shorter pieces dating from an earlier period in which the
composer was searching for an individual style, elicited
deserved praise as much for its colour and imaginative
responses as for its assured mastery of the music’s often
ferocious technical demands. In turning her attention now
to Scriabin, Chung brings the same qualities to music whose
idiom, despite its comparative familiarity, is scarcely
less elusive. Although her repertoire includes Scriabin’s
brazenly ecstatic Fifth Sonata, she has for the most part
confined her programme on this occasion to miniatures from
opposite ends of the composer’s stylistic spectrum. The
exception here is Vers la flamme, a five-minute apocalyptic
showion memorably described by Horowitz as ‘psychedelic
music dealing with the mysterious forces of fire and the
atom that can destroy all of humanity’.

If Chung’s perspective on the inferno in Vers la flame
lacks some of the binding intensity of Vladimir Horowitz-
astonishingly, a video performance of even more manic terror
is presently unavailable and must surely reappear in DVD
format long before – her less febrile approach is none
of the less persuasive in its own right. This is particularly
true in the more wistful, more unapologetically Chopinesque
numbers of Op.11, in which yet unaffected yet stylish sensitivity
is especially telling as, for example, in her control of
sonority and texture in No.11, a pianistic sophistication
that is no less evident in her exquisite handling of Op.16
No.1. She is most impressive in the relentless drive of
No.24, as she is in the dynamic arch of No.7 – her elegant
fingerwork in No.3 also rivals that of Lane in tracing,
with the utmost refinement, fragmentary melodic strands
from the rapidly shifting contours. Chung is as alive to
the grace and nostalgic charm of the music as she is to
the demons that lie behind so many of these fleeting images.

Indeed, her responsiveness to Scriabin’s showion of the
Final Unity, juxtaposing images of Love and Death, conveys
the psychological unease, as well as the emotional fragility,
that the deceptively transparent textures disguise with
uncanny instinct. Recommended.”

Charles Hopkins

Gramophone, February 2003

The wildly fluctuating imagination of Scriabin caught wonderfully by Chung

“In the 2001 Awards issue I praised a Dynamic Ligeti recording by
Lucille Chung , celebrating her “imperturbable clarity and insight” in a
thorny but enchanting programme. Now in her new Scriabin recital she
takes us on a journey ranging from Opp 11 to 74 that is arguably not
such a giant leap from Ligeti. Concentrating on miniatures rather than
sonatas, Chung’s stylish and refined performances capture ideally
Scriabin’s wildly fluctuating imagination, the way that, like Ligeti, a
mere fragment is fanned into intricate and volatile life. She is less
manic than Horowitz in, say, Vers la flamme but she has an
enviable way of tempering Scriabin’s neuasthenic, morbidly sensitive
nature with a restraint that never excludes drama or intensity.

At the opposite end of the spectrum , the 24 Preludes, Op 11, where a
Chopinesque bias is already coloured by a distinctive voice, she is
warmly attuned to brio and introspection alike. Outstanding in the
wistful, in-turned character of No 10, or the way in which the
entreating magic of No 11 dissolves into quietly rapturous dreams, she
is no less successful in the fire-storm of No 14 or the thrumming
insistence of No 24. Her pedalling is sensitive and discreet in the
ravishing first Prelude fom Op 16, with chimes and echoes that surely
originate from the closing pages of Chopin’s D flat Nocturne, and her
command never falters in the darkly obsessive world of Op 74.

Chung has several distinguished rivals on record in this repertoire,
but her performances are sufficiently fluent, characterful and
consistent to make comparisons largely irrelevant. She has been finely
recorded and lavishly presented and further discs by this outstanding
pianist are eagerly awaited.”

Bryce Morrison

The Whole Note, March 2003

“At the ripe old age of ten years, piano prodigy Lucille
Chung made her debut with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra.
After admission to the Curtis Institute of Music when she
was fourteen, this Montreal wunderkind began graduate work
at Juilliard while still a teenager. Chung’s international
reputation rightly soared when her 2001 recording of Ligeti’s
daunting piano music (Dynamic CDS 358) received accolades
from BBC Music Magazine, Repertoire and Fono Forum. She
is now approaching the end of her second decade as a professional
concert performer.

This wonderful new CD pairs some of Scriabin’s earliest
romantic piano music with his last revolutionary compositions
in 1915, the year of his untimely death at the age of 43.
Chung’s mastery of his idiosyncratic, complex take on Romanticism
gives us the starting point for the entirely original,
unorthodox musical language that Scriabin created from
1910 onwards.

George Perle depicts Scriabin as the first composer “…
to exploit serial procedures systematically as a means
of compensating for the loss of traditional tonal functions.” But
this was only part of the landscape of Scriabin’s advanced
but highly accessible music. His 1915 solo pieces were
bellwethers for a Russian avant-garde that rivaled Western
Europe’s in creativity, but which were to be literally
erased by Stalin.

Chung’s intellectual grasp of Scriabin’s formal structures,
her instincts for his intense tonal colors, and the virtuosity
necessary to tackle his complexity lead us right into the
poetry of Scriabin’s music.”

Phil Ehrensaft

The Classical Source, March 4,2003

Ligeti Piano Music – Lucille Chung

Ligeti’s piano music is starting to be more widely represented
on CD. There is an ongoing series on BIS, with Fredrik
Ullén, and although Pierre-Laurent Aimard’s contribution
to Sony’s Ligeti Edition appears to have been deleted,
Idil Biret has recently recorded the two books of Etudes
for Naxos.

Lucille Chung can more than hold her own in this company
and her recital is an excellent programme in its own right.
In her hands, many of these pieces take on a rather less
forbidding character than they can assume with some other
players, and Chung responds readily to the particular style
determined by each piece. In chronological terms, the Caprices
(1947) and Invention (1948) are the earliest, though placed
sensibly between the two lengthier works on this CD. Here,
the music is somewhat less thorny than in some of the later
pieces, with some attractive, folk-like melodic moments
which perhaps call to mind the piano music of Bartók
whose rhythmic drive is also a feature of Ligeti’s writing.
These shifting metres are fluidly realised by Chung who,
here and elsewhere, finds a welcome degree of charm and
wit, making Ligeti’s invention seem less austere than is
sometimes the case.

More substantial is the second book of Etudes (1988-93).
The title ’study’ can suggest a dry form, but Ligeti often
adopts a surprisingly lyrical approach. The set as a whole
is well contrasted, with some quasi-impressionistic movements
alternating with more intractable music, such as the rapid
pulsation that is a feature of Etude 10 (No.4 of this second
book). The set culminates in a violate finale with forceful
and extreme dynamic indications. Once again, Chung delivers
considered and convincing performances, and the more virtuosic
moments, such as rapidly moving scales at the extremes
of the piano’s register, are delivered effortlessly. Her
pedalling, too, is worthy of praise, for she never allows
the sound to blur and, where appropriate, individual notes
or lines are clearly brought out without any undue distraction
or point-making.

Chung’s integrity and technical facility is further evinced
in Musica Ricercata (1951-53). As implied by the archaic-sounding
title, homage is paid to earlier models, such as those
of Bartók (in whose memory the ninth piece, marked
‘Mesto’, sadly, is touchingly dedicated) and, perhaps surprisingly,
in the concluding fugal ‘Omaggio a Girolamo Frescobaldi’.
There is a neo-classical feel to many of these short pieces,
which may surprise those who only know Ligeti through atmospheric
orchestral sonorities or disquieting choral sounds. No.8
is a Stravinsky-like ‘Vivace’, bi-tonality rears its head
in No.10 (shades of Milhaud?) and there’s a deliciously
ironic waltz (No.4). Perhaps most startling is the opening,
with its play on a single note in different octaves – Lucille
Chung’s dedicated and affectionate playing captures these
multifarious moods. If ‘affectionate’ is perhaps a surprising
description, Chung not only has these often fearsomely
demanding pieces well within her technical grasp, she seems
genuinely fond of them too.

Lucille Chung is a gifted pianist whom I look forward
to hearing again.

Timothy Ball

Review Vancouver, October 2002

“Lucille Chung’s note-perfect and lovingly shaped
version of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20 should alone
have drawn savage beasts to be charmed. The first and third
movement cadenzas were dazzling in the colouring and flawless
elegance. This was vivid, stylish, and convincingly lyric
playing, and Chung gave an unstinting display of her masterly
pianism. The spot-on balance between podium and soloist
brought nuance and finesse to this very familiar piece.”

J. H. Stape

Neue Zeitung, Germany, June 2002

“Die Hauptleistung dieser bestechenden Klavieredition
liegt in der technischen Brillanz und geistigen Durchdringen.
Jede Etüde erscheint als Wunderwerk aus Mechanik und
Poesie.”

Interpretation: *****

Lutz Lesle

Il Giornale della Musica, Italy, July-August 2002

“Chung padroneggia con chiarezza di articolazione ed intensita
musicalità anche le pagine più esigenti,
come l’ossessivo Der Zauberlehrling o il tellurico Columna
infinita, arrichendo nella scelta del colore i risultati
sonori della ricerca di questo maestro del Novecento.”

Barbara Diana

Amadeus, Italy, July 2002

“La pianistica di Montreal Lucille Chung esprime il meglio
della propria tecnica e musicalità per interpretare
con forza scultorea questo percorso artistico.”

Artistico: *****

a.b.

ClassicsToday.com, March 2002

“My first encounter with Lucille Chung’s cultivated pianism
and individual artistry occurred at her 1996 New York recital
debut where she played one of the most memorable all-Liszt
programs in my listening experience. She proves every bit
as impressive in a cross-section of Ligeti’s piano music,
and easily holds her own in the company of supreme Ligeti
interpreters such as Fredrik Ullén and Pierre-Laurent
Aimard. The chattering rhythmic complexities throughout
the second book of Etudes benefit from the immediacy and
impact of Dynamic’s close miking. Chung doesn’t delineate
the inner rhythms of Der Zauberlehrling or L’escalier di
diable with Aimard’s easy adroitness, yet she makes Fém’s
staccatos more distinct and brings more varied articulation
and melodic pointing to Columna infinita. In the two early
Capriccios and the Invention, I lean more toward Chung’s
fanciful, crisply dynamic readings than to Irina Kataeva’s
accomplished sobriety in Sony’s Ligeti Edition. It’s a
toss-up between Aimard and Chung in the Musica Ricercata’s
11 quirky, diverse short movements. Aimard makes his points
through steady rhythmic cumulation and has a superior instrument
on hand. However, Chung’s discreetly effective rubatos
personalize the music to more dramatic effect. I’m not
sure if Chung coached these works with Ligeti, but I think
he’ll warm to how this gifted pianist plays his music.”

Jed Distler

Le Monde de la Musique, avril 2002

“…La jeune pianiste québécoise Lucille Chung
offre des interprétations remarquablement maîtrisées
des pages de jeunesse, encore néobartókiennes,
de Ligeti. Sa lecture sobre, virtuose mais expressive du
Deuxième Livre des Études en souligne le
raffinement et la dimension poètique.”

Patrick Szernovizc

Scotland on Sunday, March 17, 2002

“Best known for Lux Aeterna, a choral work featured in
Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, Ligeti’s compositions
span the last half of the 20th century. This CD, performed
by the Canadian Lucille Chung, draws on piano music written
between 1947 and 1993. Ligeti’s second book of Piano Etudes,
from 1993, are the most complex, demanding great skill.
The 11 pieces comprising Musica Ricerata, from 1951-53,
are perhaps the most instantly accessible, but it’s the
Etudes that make one gasp, as does Chung’s dazzling interpretation.”

Christopher Bowen

American Record Guide, January/February 2002

“…the instrument becomes a chamber of cloudy, ethereal,
sometimes explosive sound, full of quirky repeated patterns
and elegant designs, all played with gusto, delicacy, and
staggering virtuosity by Lucille Chung.”

Sullivan

Répertoire, février 2002

“… C’est l’une des pieces où le talent de la
Québécoise Lucille Chung, qui est passée
par la Juilliard et le Mozarteum, éclate. Elle
a une incroyable façon de retenir la tension qu’elle
génère, qui peut rendre fou… La force qu’elle
développe est étonnante pour une telle
jeune femme, à en faire oublier sa virtuosité et
sa technicité par un charme vraiment étonnant…On
reparlera d’elle…”

10/10

Jean Vermeil

Classic CD, Italy, January 2002

“…fascinating and poetic…aggressive and sweeping”

Riccardo Risaliti

Piano News, January 2002

” She is so tiny and only 1 meter and 50 centimeters tall.
But nevertheless she plays with such great power and verve
nobody would expect. The Etudes deuxième livre are
especially demanding in these qualiies . Lucille Chung,
born in Canada, conquered them with sensitive construction
and phrasing. She is always thinking from the pianistic
point of view: that is why her interpretations are congenial
and always organic. She plays “Fém” with pep and “Vertige” fluently.
And the polyrhythmic excesses of “L’escalier du diable” are
totally controlled but always mastered with admirable ease.
This high level is maintained throughout her interpretation
of “Musica Ricercata:, especially the “Sostenuto”. This
recording is mature and exemplary.”

Hans-Dieter Grünefeld

Fono Forum, January 2002

In comparison to a collection of Etudes played by Erika
Haase: “Younger Canadian pianist Lucille Chung is undoubtedly
the greater daredevil when it comes to Ligeti. She conquers
Ligeti with exceptional sensitivity and ease. She does
not shy away at the devilish difficulties of “L’escalier
du diable”. And when it comes to smaller works , she demonstrates
the congeniality with Bartok. Musica Ricercata is amazing
in her interpretation and even a bit coquettish. This recording
is First Rate and the engineers are as well.” (*****)

Michael Stenger

The Gazette, Canada, January 24, 2002

“…perhaps the most remarkable of many luminous performances
by Montreal pianist Lucille Chung.”

Arthur Kaptainis

Musical Opinion, December 2001

Lucille Chung at the Wigmore “The young Canadian pianist
Lucille Chung gave a notably successful programme for her
UK debut in the Wigmore Hall on 7 September…she was impressibly
commanding in the three of Ligeti’s Études from
Book 2, projected with superb virtuosity and musicianship,
qualities she also brought to Prokofiev’s Second Sonata,
particularly in the finale. Liszt’s B minor Sonata ended
her programme in a very well structured powerful reading
of no little intensity and insight.”

Robert Matthew-Walker

BBC Music Magazine, December 2001

” Ligeti’s Etudes are the outstanding piano works of the
past two decades- dazzling pieces in the lineage of Chopin
and Debussy, yet exploiting keyboard virtuosity with utter
individuality. They are instant classics. Anyone playing
them needs to stand comparison with the authoritative accounts
recorded for Sony’s Ligeti Edition by Pierre-Laurent Aimard.
Lucille Chung’s brilliant, crystalline performances are
certainly very impressive indeed. The jazzy rhythms of “Fém” (Hungarian
for “metal”), the dizzying Escher-like scales of “Vertige”,
the rapid mechanical ostinato of “Der Zauberlehrling” (a
piece study inspired by the player-piano music of Conlon
Nancarrow) – all these are quite superbly rendered. So,
too, are the older pieces included here, written while
Ligeti was still living in Hungary, “Musica Ricercata” is
a sort of elaborate counting-game, with each successive
piece using one more note than the last. Some of its numbers
resurfaced in Ligeti’s Bagatelles for wind quintet; and
one of them was pretentiously used in Stanley Kubrick’s
final film, Eyes Wide Shut. Chung is fully responsive to
the music’s wit , rhythmic élan and expressive depth.
[...] Those who already have Aimard’s recording would benefit
from hearing Chung.”

PERFORMANCE *****

SOUND *****

Misha Donat

The Sunday Times, London, September 16, 2001

“The Canadian pianist Lucille Chung, who recently made
her Wigmore Hall debut, has a good deal of international
experience. This disc shows her to be a considerable artist,
admirable for her bold choice of music – Ligeti is not,
for most pianists, at the heart of the repertoire – for
her obvious enjoyment of the character of the music, and
for her ease with the extreme technical difficulties posed
by the second book of Etudes (1988-93). There’s more besides:
the skittish Capriccios of 1947, a post-Bachian Invention
of 1948, and the 11 pieces of Musica Ricercata (1951-53),
which progressively encompass first one, then two, then
three pitches, and so on as the cycle proceeds. Gloriously
experimental, this is music of a purity and intellect that
has rather gone out of fashion. More’s the pity.”

Stephen Pettitt

Gramophone Awards Issue, November 2001

An impressive debut on disc tackles Ligeti’s vertiginous
demands with astonishing ease “György Ligeti will
prompt those who look askance at contemporary music (and
they include a surprising number of prominent musicians)
to think again. For here, in Lucille Chung’s outstanding
recording of Ligeti’s artistic evolution is music to
dazzle, provoke and delight. [...] Ligeti’s demands are,
not surprisingly, ferocious but they are met with imperturbable
clarity and insight by Canadian Chung. She is finely
recorded, and her disc includes an encouraging essay
by Danilo Prefumo.”

Bryce Morrison

Lübeck Nachrichten, Germany, September 11, 2001

Exciting Opening Piano Recital of the Scharwenka Society “Lübeck-
The concert started about twenty minutes late because
the hall could not be opened in time. A faux pas. But
the audience’s compensation was abundant: Canadian pianist
Lucille Chung filled with enthusiasm continuously. She
started her recital with Beethoven’s lesser know Süssmayr
Variations- highly concentrated with a clear and expressive
touch and penetrating musical imagination. Then Granados’
Quejas, o la Maja y el Ruiseñor hovered lightly
over the audience and with Mendelssohn’s Caprice No.
2 she demonstrated to everybody “for whom the bell tolls”.
Lucille Chung finished the first part of her recital
with two Etudes by György Ligeti, of whom she has
just recorded works on CD (Dynamic). She celebrated “En
Suspens” and ” Der Zauberlehrling” from Book 2 not only
in a convincing manner: she was fascinating! The Liszt
Sonata acknowledged this impression as well. She played
with great power, verve and furiosity, but throughout
intellectually controlled and admirable for her ease
with all the extreme technical difficulties posed by
this piece. Three encores: Prokofiev, Schumann and again
Ligeti: Etude No.13 from Book 2 “L’escalier du diable”.
And it became apparent to the audience that it will hardly
be possible to surpass Lucille Chung’s musical and pianistic
level during the Scharwenka season.”

Alexander Mottok

The Classic Voice, Italy, November 2001

“La giovane pianista canadese dimostra non solo di avere
una tecnica di ferro, quanto mai necessario per affrontare
questi pezzi, ma anche di avere bien chiaro il valore musicale
della raccolta ligetiana, che costei interpreta in modo
a tratti persino avvincente. La meravigliosa tecnica pianistica
viene ancora più evidenziata nel secondo libro degli
Studi per pianoforte (1988-93) ormai un classico della
letteratura pianistica del XX secolo: s’ascolti la violenza
tellurica con quale la giovane interprete affronta, per
esempio, l’ultimo frammento Columna infinita, una sorta
di terribile moto perpetuo. Ma la Chung risulta anche in
grado di mostare, come anticipato, il valore musicale rivoluzionario
di questi pezzi…”

La Presse, Canada, October 27, 2001

“Among records, the most audacious enterprise is certainly
Lucille Chung’s, who dedicated a disc of about one hour
long to György Ligeti, the Austro-Hungarian who, at
78, is still at the first ranks of avant-garde. Lucille
Chung chose the second book, the Etudes no. 7-14. Instead
of the first book, she completes her disc with older pages:
the two little Capriccios of 1947, the small Invention
of 1948 and the eleven pieces called Musica Ricercata,
of 1953. The 28 year old pianist shows an astonishing affinity
for this music. She brings technical solidity, definition,
sense of color, as well as humour, and a scrupulous respect
of dynamics (Ligeti passes from eight “piano” to eight “forte”!)
and of the suggested timings. She is served by an exceptional
sound take. And when did you ever hear such a clear and
precise sound in the top register of the piano?”

Claude Gingras

Windsor Star, Canada, April 21, 2001

Soloist adds to lustre of WSO Mozart series “Windsor
Symphony’s Mozart and More series at Assumption Chapel
is a jewel in the orchestra’s crown. And Friday, the
chamber series capped its season with a memorable program
that included the great Mozart Piano Concerto No. 20.
Montreal-born Lucille Chung was the soloist. She launched
her career in the 1980’s at the age of 10 with Orchestre
symphonique de Montréal, and has been actively
promoted by OSM artistic director Charles Dutoit. She
is a very showual performer, animated and expressive.
But that doesn’t distract from her technical prowess
or the quality of her interpretation. Mozart’s great
D minor concerto, K. 466, contains one of his finest
melodies, the beautiful second movement Romanza. And
Chung’s playing was rapturous, notes shaped with precision
but never overwrought. She allowed the movement to speak
its own mind rather than impose her own sensibilities
on it. The fluid playing was evident in the opening and
closing movements, as well, particularly in the cadenzas.
Chung’s temperament seems perfectly suited to the big
romantics, say Grieg or Liszt, and Windsor Symphony would
be smart to get her back soon before she’s out of the
price range.”

Ted Shaw

Winnipeg Free Press, Canada, January 8, 2001

Pianist Chung versatile, poised Trio of sonatas met
with standing ovation “On Saturday night at the Eckhardt-Gramatte
Hall, Virtuosi Concerts and a large audience welcomed
pianist Lucille Chung to the stage. She brought with
her an ambitious program of sonatas from three distinct
musical eras and proved herself to be a versatile, intelligent
artist. Mozart’s second-last piano sonata – the K. 570
in B Flat major – was Chung’s choice to begin the show.
She handled the Allegro’s rapid-fire runs with fine articulation
and beautiful clarity and she walked a careful line between
classical poise and capricious abandon. Throughout the
Adagio and the Allegretto movements, she took a very
measured approach that both highlighted the gentle corners
while allowing the light and lively moments to sparkle
delicately. [...] Her technique throughout [Prokofiev Sonata
no.2] was rock solid – the hand-crossing effects of the
Scherzo were especially well-detailed – and her reading
was interesting. The Liszt B Minor Sonata is a monster
of a piece requiring a great intellectual effort to shape
its 30-minute, one-movement structure. The three main
themes within the first page of the work are treated
to a kaleidoscopic array of guises and treatments that
test the capabilities of the virtuoso pianist. Chung
attacked the sonata with impressive vigour and produced
some moments of great passion and excitement. Her approach
was somewhat Chopin-esque: her smooth way with some of
the more aggressive sections shed some interesting light
into the work’s many corners. And she displayed impressive
endurance and stamina in sustaining the sonata’s momentum.
A standing ovation brought Chung back to the stage for
a cute little Mendelssohn Caprice Op. 16 No.2 . It will
be interesting to watch this artist grow and mature as
her career takes off.”

Andrew Thompson

Le Soleil, Québec, 5 janvier 2000

“Pleine de moyens, la jeune interprète possède
un pouvoir certain, celui de susciter graduellement l’intérêt
de spectateur, pour finir par le plonger dans une sorte
de joie bienfaisante.”

Richard Boisvert

Nuovo Chienti e Potenza, Italy, 20 maggio 1999

“Chung ha dimostrato anche grande maturitá con
una esecuzione appassionata che ha saputo rendere magnificamente
le sonoritá complesse e pastose del grande autore
tedesco [Schumann].”

Corrado Zucconi

American Record Guide, Nov./Dec. 1998

“It’s an auspicious debut for Ms. Chung, a first-rate
pianist by any standard and a name to watch”

Young

Le Devoir, Montréal, 20 juin 1998

“… le propos de la jeune pianiste québécoise
se traduit par un jeu perlé d’une séduction
et d’un raffinement constants”

Alain Bénard

New York Concert Review, Summer, 1996

“…riveting, illuminating, fiery, transcendental pianism…”

Jed Distler

Budapest Week, January 1995

Chung: a concert to remember “The petite pianist
plays with a power twice her size. Twenty years from
now, it won’t be her that you remember, but her performance.”

Istvan Miklosfai

Le Soir, Bruxelles, le 15 mai 1995

“La séduction enflammée et raffinée
de Lucille Chung … alliant vigueur et souplesse, dans une éloquence
aussi naturelle qu’ élégante”

Michel Debrocq

Thüringen Letzte Zeitung TLZ Weimar, 25 Oktober 1994

“Was dem Zuhörer beim Konzert im Weimarer Nationaltheater
geboten wurde, übertraf alle Erwartungen. Niemals
hatten die vielen Bravo-Rufe an diesem Ort eine grössere
Berechtigung. Lucille Chung spielte mit ungeheuerlicher
Ausdruckdichte, mit Gefühl für die Steigerungsdramaturgie
wie für agogischen Verschränkungen der Teile
und mit unzähligen aparten Klangnuancen, als erzähle
sie eine spannungsvolle Ballade, wobei sie immer wieder
aus eigenhender Form- und Satzanalyse entscheidende Impulse
bezog”

Hans-Jürgen Thiers

The Washington Post, September 16, 1994

Lucille Chung on the Fast Track “… her performance was
exciting and rewarding… Chung’s blazing gutsy performance
of Prokofiev had just the right humorous intensity”

Arthur R. Smith

The Gazette, Montréal, June 11, 1992

“Chung’s kind of lyrical poise makes a far stronger statement
than the forceful playing that almost every pianist nowadays
thinks mandatory. Chung showed that less could be more.”

Ilse Zadrozny

New Times Soviet Weekly of World Affairs, February 15, 1991

“Chung’s playing is characterized by an inner freedom
and coloring of sounds
as well as an amazing musical harmony.”

Rena Shereshevskaya

Dong-A Daily Newspaper, Seoul, November 18, 1989

 
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