Genius reinvented, pianist Kim Sun-wook returns with new resolution

By Shim Woo-hyun
  • Published : Aug 14, 2018 - 16:14
  • Updated : Aug 14, 2018 - 16:14

Even if you have something you love as a lifelong career, there can be moments you lose the passion you once had.

Pianist Kim Sun-wook said during a press conference Tuesday that he had those moments over the last few years but has since regained the love for classical music he had when he was younger. 

Pianist Kim Sun-wook speaks during a press conference held in Seoul on Tuesday. (Yonhap)

“I used to like having things planned out. I used to dream big and make plans accordingly. Like going to this piano competition and becoming a professional performer kind of plan I had when I was younger. But after performing as a professional pianist for about 10 years, there were moments when I felt lost. Like many other people, it became a repetition of the same: dressing up in a black suit, playing on the stage, coming back home and going to bed. The same followed the next day and the next week,” Kim said.

“But things have changed since the end of the last year. I started to regain things. I really hope this concert to become a chance to find again the reason why I love playing the piano and how precious the stage is to me,” Kim continued.

Kim is due to hold a recital at Seoul Arts Center Concert Hall on Sept. 9, his first in 18 months.

Pianist Kim Sun-wook speaks during a press conference held in Seoul on Tuesday. (Yonhap)

“I’ve always loved the mise-en-scene that solo recitals give. You have this one piano at the center of the stage and the audience sitting in front of it. From the moment lights go on to the moment they are off, a single player has to lead the atmosphere on his own. It’s a really exciting and special moment,” Kim said.

The program has been carefully thought out, as usual. Kim has chosen works of his favorite composers, written by them in their 20s and 30s. They include Mozart’s Piano Sonata No. 9 in D major K. 311, Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 17 “Tempest,” Debussy’s Suite Bergamasque, Brahms’ Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel, Op. 24.

“As I perform the pieces, I tried to find the links between them as they were written when the composers were in the midpoint of their careers. I myself, as a performer in my early 30s, also tried to empathize with the pieces as well,” Kim said.

Pianist Kim Sun-wook speaks during a press conference held in Seoul on Tuesday. (Yonhap)

Asked why he wanted to put Mozart’s piece at the beginning of the concert, Kim said he has a rule when programming a concert.

“I usually don’t like my programs becoming chronologically out of order. I want my two-hour solo concerts to offer a sense of flow. I want concerts to become good stories,” Kim said. “Like how you don’t start a multicourse meal with a heavy dish, I wanted to start the concert with something bright. Though it is difficult to perform them well, Mozart’s works are very good ones to open up concerts. No one really frowns at his pieces, and that’s the power that Mozart’s music has,” Kim added.

Confessing he feels ashamed for having been overconfident and overly ambitious in the past few years, Kim said he will just try to be honest with himself.

“I think I wanted to accomplish many things before I got older. I wanted to play really well. I wanted to have a grand scale and have a strong presence as a musician,” Kim said. “But now, I just love performing in front of people. I like getting old.”

Having arrived in Korea the previous night, Kim looked tired during the press conference. But as soon as he touched the keyboard for Debussy’s “Clair de lune,” he was immediately submerged in the music.

“A solo recital is where a performer can see where he or she is at that moment. It is the only opportunity where you can reveal who you really are,” Kim said.

Ahead of his Seoul concert, Kim will perform at Hanam Arts Center on Aug. 31, Hwaseong Banseog Nurim Art Hall on Sept. 1, Bupyeong Arts Center on Sept. 6, Daegu Concert House on Sept. 7 and Sejong Gugakdang in Yeoju on Sept. 8.

By Shim Woo-hyun (ws@heraldcorp.com)