Jae-Hyuck Cho hails from South Korea. He brings an enviable technique and confidence to the solo parts of these much-played and oft-recorded Piano Concertos. What is striking – and this is not a back-handed compliment – is how musical Cho is, playing without ego or self-aggrandisement, let alone intervention, yet with no lack of bravura, sentiment or character; rather there is plenty of sparkle, sonority, shapeliness, and soul.
From time to time I thought the Russian National Orchestra a little too distant (not that the piano is too forward), a recorded balance problem maybe (Moscow, June 2019), but given both works’ grandstand conclusions find the RNO opening up gloriously, then those moments when the ears have to stretch to hear certain details are more to do with Hans Graf – a sympathetic partner throughout – not trying to outdo the soloist; however, more orchestral presence is needed on occasion.
However, there is much that impresses, and I am very pleased to have heard Jae-Hyuck Cho in demanding repertoire for which there is plenty of choice. Evidence Classics EVCD071.