It was an impulsive decision to start recording Mozart's piano sonatas, as the opportunity only presented itself due to the availability of time and place. However, as Son Yeol-eum began recording at the Tongyeong Concert Hall in January, she felt as though she had returned home and she decided to finish the complete collection of Mozart’s 18 sonatas.
The pianist's ninth album, "Yeol Eum Son: Mozart Complete Piano Sonatas," is being released Friday.
Even though it felt like going back home, Son also felt something different this time.
“I knew Mozart’s music is diverse but I realized it’s even more diverse than I thought. It’s like a kaleidoscope,” Son told reporters during a press conference held at Kumho Art Hall Yonsei. “His works were composed in the early stage of the piano’s development and I realized he made various attempts as a conductor.”
Son is familiar with Mozart's works. Her performance of the composer’s Piano Concerto No. 21, K. 467 during the 2011 Tchaikovsky Competition, in which she came in second place, has garnered 21 million views on YouTube. The piece was included in her debut concerto album in 2018, recorded with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields and dedicated to her mentor, conductor and music director Neville Marriner.
In 2016, Marriner encouraged Son to record all piano concertos by Mozart, saying that she could finish the complete 27 piano concertos in her 50s if she began then. Son was about to turn 30 at the time.
Even though the Mozart complete piano concertos project was put on hold after Marriner passed away in 2016, Son, 36, said she really aspires to return to that plan, especially because she now has a renewed interest in recording albums.
“When I was younger, I felt burdened by recording albums and believed that the sense of being present at a live performance could never be captured in a recording. However, in the end, I think that albums are what will remain even after I die,” she said. "Also, when recording an album, you keep working on it until you achieve the desired result, and I feel that this process is similar to the work of composers who revise and refine their compositions," she noted.
Son’s "Mozart Complete Piano Sonatas" will be released through Naive Records, a French label under Believe Music, with which she signed on in January while she was already working on the recording.
In May, Son will embark on a nationwide tour, giving eight performances in seven cities including Seoul, her hometown of Wonju, Gangwon Province, and Tongyong, South Gyeongsang Province, for the first round from May 2 to 7. She will return to Korea for another set of performance scheduled to take place from June 21 to June 25 in Gwangju, Daegu, Goyang, Gyeonggi Province, and Kimhae, South Gyeongsang Province.
“I’d like to meet diverse people around the country,” she said, adding that she felt disappointed that many performances were concentrated in major cities, especially Seoul.