Suh / Pianist
Pianist Hai-Kyung Suh has won acclaim on four continents for her signature playing style, deeply rooted in the Russian Romantic tradition. Like few other artists before the public today, her combination of singing tone, rich color palette, and supreme virtuosity recalls the great pianists of yesteryear from Rachmaninoff and Hofmann to Cherkassky and Bolet, causing critics like the one for the Asahi Shinbun of Tokyo to exclaim over "a passionate musicality and dramatic expressiveness rarely seen." In that same grand tradition, her profound understanding of musical structure gives her performances a particularly compelling quality; reviewing Ms. Suh’s New York recital debut, Tim Page in the New York Times described a "propulsive and exciting performance, built block by block with the structural command of a musical architect."
Through her training with the renowned pedagogues Nadia Reisenberg and Sascha Gorodnitzki, Hai-Kyung Suh achieved exceptional insight into the great works of the Russian repertoire. The Times of London wrote of her performance of Rachmaninoff's Third Concerto with the Philharmonia Orchestra: "Her obvious deep involvement with the work infuses it with a freshness and electric energy which has earned her high praise." The same work, performed in Berlin with conductor Franz Welser-Möst, brought admiration for her “hair-raising virtuosity” from Der Tagesspiegel, which continued, "Her mastery of the concerto brought shouts of bravo from the admiring audience, and excited, tumultuous applause." The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has called her “a genuinely Romantic fire-breather” at the piano. She has made acclaimed recordings of the complete piano concertos of Tchaikovsky, and is the first woman pianist to record all five of Rachmaninoff’s works for piano and orchestra: four concertos and the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini.
Hai-Kyung Suh / Pianist
Hai-Kyung Suh’s talent was recognized early. She won first prize in a national competition at age 8 and the Grand Prix of the Ewha /KyungHyang Music Competition when she was 10. She made her orchestral debut at age 11, performing Mozart's Concerto in C major, K. 467, with the Korean National Symphony Orchestra (now the KBS Symphony Orchestra). The Republic of Korea honored her with its President's Medal twice, when she was 11 and 12 years old, elevating her over much older competitors. After studying in Japan, where she became a sensation in her teens, she moved to New York for studies with Reisenberg at the Mannes College of Music and with Gorodnitzki at the Juilliard School, where she earned bachelor’s and doctor’s degrees. She earned prizes at the Munich, William Kapell, and Gina Bachauer competitions, among others, and won the 2nd prize (no 1st prize awarded) at both the Busoni International Piano Competition and the Munich ARD International Piano Competition. For these accomplishments, the Korean government bestowed on the 20-year-old pianist its highest honor for an artist, the Medal of Cultural Achievement. Ms. Suh went on to win first prize at the Palm Beach (Florida) Invitational International Competition, an event open only to winners of other competitions. As the winner of the William Petschek Award she made her U.S. recital debut in 1985 in Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall. By 2004, the veteran critic Harris Goldsmith could call her New York recital "an exceptionally satisfying evening" that made it "obvious to this writer that...Ms. Suh has resoundingly made the difficult transition from prodigy to self-confident 'Old Master.'"
Besides Maestro Welser-Möst, Ms. Suh's orchestral collaborators have included Riccardo Muti, Neville Marriner, Zdeněk Mácal, Ivan Fischer, Myung-Whun Chung, Charles Dutoit, Gianluigi Gelmetti, Paolo Olmi and Moshe Atzmon, among many others. She has appeared as soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra, Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra, London Philharmonic, Tokyo Symphony Orchestra, Nagoya Philharmonic, Osaka Philharmonic, Shanghai Philharmonic and other major orchestras. She has performed concertos of Prokofiev, Tchaikovsky, and Rachmaninoff with the Moscow Philharmonic, Moscow State Symphony, and State Symphony Kapelle of Russia (formerly the Soviet Philharmonic Orchestra). In chamber music, Ms. Suh has performed with the distinguished cellists Bernard Greenhouse and Leslie Parnas,
and she partnered and coached soprano Barbara Bonney in a recital CD that included arrangements of Korean folk songs, on the London Decca label. Ms. Suh also performed Brahms’s Piano Quintet with the Concertgebouw Quartet.
In 2006, at the peak of her international fame, Ms. Suh was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer and briefly withdrew from performing to fight the disease. Only five months after completing extensive chemo and radiation therapy, she returned to the stage performing both Rachmaninoff Concerto No. 2 and No. 3 on Jan. 22, 2008. Since then she has continued concertizing and recording the complete works for piano and orchestra of Rachmaninoff (four concertos and Rhapsody) and Tchaikovsky (three concertos and Concert Fantasia). In 2015, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the death of Scriabin, she made a highly successful tour with a brilliant recital program of works by Scriabin and Rachmaninoff. In 2016, she recorded a CD of four Mozart piano concertos with Sir Neville Marriner and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, released by Deutsche Grammophon to critical acclaim. Recently she completed a triumphant Asian tour, performing in the prominent concert halls of Seoul, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Tokyo.
In addition to the Mozart Concertos CD and the Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky sets, Ms. Suh's recordings include a CD of Beethoven sonatas for Deutsche Grammophon; Tchaikovsky's Concerto No. 1 with the State Symphony Kapelle of Russia, on the Cantabile label; a disc of virtuoso solo music by Mussorgsky, Scriabin, and Stravinsky; etudes by Chopin and Liszt; two piano solo anthologies, “Jewels” and “Nacht und Träume”; a recital CD with soprano Barbara Bonney; and a CD of piano music by present-day Asian composers