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Recording and performing the complete cycle of Beethoven Piano Sonatas has long been the reserve for the Grand Master or Mistress, a reward for expert hands, following long and storied careers. Here, in a bold and controversial new recording project, the 24 year-old HJ Lim will prove that she is ready now. Lim, who has already performed the sonatas in critically acclaimed 8-day concert series in France, Germany and Japan, will release the complete sonatas in a deluxe, 8-CD slipcased edition.
“I view these sonatas by Beethoven as the most intense diary, in which genius expresses, or even illustrates, all the facets of a life that is sometimes sublimated, and idealized, and often deeply moving by its realism.
To perform Beethoven's sonatas is not just to interpret music, but is also an attempt to understand the multi-faceted psychology of a human being. It is, in any case, an attempt to bring to light one's own truth. If Beethoven's music can help us understand the human being that he was, so can entering Beethoven's life help us understand his music.”
“All these reflections would not be valid without a source coming from Beethoven himself or from one of his close contemporaries, the many accounts from his close relations that we have, also the letters and personal notes are therefore very important. It does indeed help us place ourselves within the composer's lifetime and cancel as much as possible of the distance that separates us from him. As Beethoven's music is profoundly human, we can today still understand it with our hearts. And yet there is a crucial element that as an interpreter we must urgently work on, which is to "re-actualize" the impact and shock that this music could create at the time. Each sonata should be conveyed with all the freshness and innovatory inspiration it could produce in the eyes of Beethoven's contemporaries. This is the difficult role and heavy responsibility of the interpreter.
All composers need the indispensable assistance of interpreters in order to survive and communicate their ideas to a larger number, and for that their "divinity" could be transmitted to the public. However, I feel that I, as interpreter, I am not only serving the composer, but I am using myself in my turn, composers as my intermediary, as the interpreters of the divinity, to get myself closer to the Muse.” HJ Lim
NB Lim has chosen to omit the two small Op. 49 sonatas on the grounds that Beethoven didn't intend them for publication
25th May 2012
“Her romantic approach, full of impulsive accelerations, would be perfect for Liszt, and might please listeners in search of a Beethoven pushed further into the 19th century than history made possible.”
“[Lim] takes chances, and the vibrant yet quirky characteristics in her playing I observed in my review of Vol. 1 continue to rampage throughout the remaining works...Lim's liberties convince the most when they intensify the music's inherent character...In sum, even at her most wrong-headed, Lim's strong personality and obvious Beethovenian affinity bode well for her mature remarks 20 years from now.”
“When her idiosyncratic pianism is consumed in bulk, one seems method in her madness, as with Glenn Gould's. As the finale of her Hammerklavier attests, Lim is blessed - and cursed - with amazing technical dexterity; the fact that this movement is near-flawless is offset by the way the music coalesces into a frantic blur at moments of peak intensity...In her opening Allegros she possesses the touch of a true Beethovenian.”
“[The Hammerklavier] stands as a representative of Lim’s strengths...Without picking over every sonata, I would say that you can find great enjoyment with HJ Lim, but even with gruff Beethovenian directness, tremendous verve and some remarkably expressive moments and passages, this is not a set which will dislodge the great names”
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