Pianist David Jae-Weon Huh
Appearing last night at Sunset Center with the Monterey Symphony under the direction of Max Bragado-Darman, Korean pianist David Jae-Weon Huh gave us an electrifying performance of Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3 that was overflowing with pent up energy, explosive virtuosity, rampant expressive romanticism and a spontaneous joy of music making.
Where is Max Bragado-Darman finding such fresh and exciting young talented pianists? Whatever his source, it seems to be working, and we obviously have the remainder of an exciting season ahead of us to look forward to.
David Jae-Weon Huh has been following the path of gifted young Asians before him by winning important international piano competitions. Although he seems to have no commercially produced CDs to his name, he has developed a significant presence on YouTube — live performances from his participation in international competitions, and they are impressive! Perhaps we are observing a new trend in promoting concert careers. Previously unknown young artists can generate millions of hits on YouTube, and it can launch a career.
Although an outstanding and brilliant pianist, Huh doesn’t let his virtuosity get in the way of serving the music he performs. Some of the finest moments in his performance were the lyrical episodes, like the second theme in the first movement, and the finely shaped melodic elements in the variation movement. His masterful brilliant technique, always under control, and never resorting to banging, resulted in a powerfully developed climax to the concerto’s first movement (eliciting a loud burst of audience applause) and the magnificently exciting and satisfying conclusion to the third movement.
Responding to the prolonged standing ovation, Huh played a surprising encore – a paraphrase by Alfred Grünfeld on Themes from Der Fledermaus by Johann Strauss. This is a pure show-off piece without a great deal of substance, but it received a knockout performance -– it exploited every possible pianistic device known to man, and it was tossed off with the greatest of ease.
The remainder of the program was devoted to a fine performance of Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony. In this performance the Monterey Symphony was joined by selected members of the Youth Music Monterey County (YMMC) Honors Orchestra. It is always a wonderful experience for these developing young musicians to have an opportunity to perform along side of seasoned professionals at Sunset Center. After the performance YMMC Music Director Farkhad Khudyev received accolades for his preparation of the young musicians.