William Youn, RSO Berlin, Valentin Uryupin – Boulanger, Fauré, Hahn

Review William Youn, RSO Berlin, Valentin Uryupin – Boulanger, Fauré, Hahn

Take a virtuoso pianist capable of filigree, a sensitive orchestra, a conductor with taste and a great deal of sensitivity. The album Boulanger, Fauré, Hahn, recorded by William Youn together with the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin under the direction of Valentin Uryupin, shows why this makes you sit up and take notice.

Much has already been written in praise of Youn. His sensitive touch, his tasteful interpretations, his ability not to play music, but to invite the listener to experience it. All of this also applies to this recording, and the special charm lies in the fact that the orchestra and conductor also possess these abilities. They play sensitively, release the sounds gently into the room and even the timpani sensitively create fullness from the background.

This sensitivity of the musicians is a stroke of luck for the pieces. The album presents special works for piano and orchestra. That would be the rarely heard Piano Concerto in E major by Reynaldo Hahn, together with two pieces that were specially rearranged for piano by William Youn. They are joined by the Fantaisie variée pour piano et orchestre by Nadia Boulanger. And Gabriel Fauré, who died in November 1924, making 2024 his year of remembrance, was honoured by the musicians with tasteful recordings of the Ballade Op. 19, N 56, the Fantaisie, Op. 111 and the Après un rève, Op. 7, No. 1.

The recording itself is wonderfully transparent and precise in its reproduction. The stage extends realistically in moderate width and depth and allows a clear localisation of the instruments. Youn himself stands at the front, positioned slightly to the right, and the acoustic impression is almost as if you could watch the hammerheads at work. However, as good recordings go, this is just a perfect illusion.

Nevertheless (or perhaps precisely because of this), this recording is one of the most beautiful performances of the year so far. (Thomas Semmler, HighResMac)

William Youn, piano
Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra
Valentin Uryupin, conductor

Photo credit: Irène Zandel

William Youn, RSO Berlin, Valentin Uryupin – Boulanger, Fauré, Hahn

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