On Love and Longing, the up-and-coming pianist’s STEINWAY & SONS debut album, Yoonie Han invites us into her soundworld, enveloping us with her exceptional imagination and the narrative power of some of classical music’s most famous melodies.
The Romantics (Schubert, Liszt) and their descendants (Wagner, Prokofiev) figure prominently on this lovelorn album, but there are also a number of surprises, including the world premiere recording of a flamenco-inspired new piece written for Han by composer Theodore Wiprud.
Everywhere Yoonie Han performs, the South Korean born pianist with a Curtis/Juilliard pedigree entrances her audience with her “flowing tones, poetic phrasing, and heavenly singing melodies” (The Cincinnati Enquirer) as well as her “musical imagination…and feel for complex textures” (The Washington Post). Since 2009 when she was awarded the Gawon Music Prize, which recognizes young pianists destined for greatness, Han’s unique vision of the solo piano repertoire has been gaining traction with critics and fans alike. Her STEINWAY & SONS debut brings this vision to the fore.
Han delights in the deep humanity of music and this characteristic is obvious in her sparkling, penetrating renditions of Liszt’s transcriptions of Schubert lieder and of Wagner’s epic Isoldens Liebestod. She freezes Romeo & Juliet at the story’s most tender moment in Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet before Parting, and celebrates another famous couple with a heart-rending performance of Friedman’s arrangement of Mélodie from Orfeo ed Euridice by Gluck. And there is as much expressed in the expansive silences of Reynaldo Hahn’s rarely performed “poèmes pour piano” as there is in achingly beautiful phrases.
She indulges in the sultrier side of love in Granados’s El amor y la muerte from Goyescas, providing a satisfying sequel to her ravishing recording of other sections of this grand work. Han’s deep interest in Spanish art and music is also on display in El Jaleo, a piece written especially for Han by the American composer Theodore Wiprud that takes its inspiration from the depiction of flamenco in John Singer Sargent’s painting of the same name. This is the world premiere recording of El Jaleo.
“Yoonie Han invites us to share her exceptional solo piano interpretations of some of the world’s most revered Lieder... Ms. Han’s impeccable piano skills gently evoke and translate the emotional textures and timbre of these songs.”
“Yoonie Han has a great delicacy of tone and feeling for drama... her heart is clearly in this project and her playing is graceful and nuanced.”
About the Artist
Praised for her "flowing tones, poetic phrasing and heavenly singing melodies" (Cincinnati Inquirer) and “musical imagination and feel for complex textures that drew vivid images” (Washington Post), South Korean pianist Yoonie Han has won top prizes in distinguished international competitions and the highest accolades for her poetic performances in major concert halls in the U.S. and around the world.
In 2009, Ms. Han was honored with the Gawon Music Award as the “most brilliant pianist aged 17 to 31 of any nationality who possesses the most promising potential for global prominence.” She is the first-prize winner of the Washington International Piano Competition, Fulbright Concerto Competition, World Piano Competition, Kosciuszko Chopin Competition, Juilliard’s Gina Bachauer Piano Competition, Juilliard’s Chopin Competition, Juilliard’s Frederich Nordmann Piano Competition, Music Teachers’ National Association Piano Competition, Nena Wideman Piano Competition, and has garnered major prizes at the International Helsinki Maj Lind Piano Competition, Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli Prize, Concorso Pianistico Ettore Pozzoli Internazionale, Valencia-Paterna International Piano Competition, and Recontre International Piano Competition. Following her 2001 grand-prize award in the Korea National Music Competition, the Korean Ministry of Culture named her its “Most Promising Young Artist.” She is the recipient of the “Brava!” award given by the Italian Academy Foundation, as well as an award from London Keyboard Trust.
Having made her solo debut with the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra at Seoul Arts Center at age 13, Ms. Han has since performed with the Berliner Symphoniker, Buffalo Philharmonic, Helsinki Philharmonic, Houston Symphony, Banff Festival Orchestra, I Pomeriggi Musicali di Milano, Gangnam Symphony Orchestra of Korea, Presidential Symphony Orchestra of Turkey, Santa Cruz Symphony, Artosphere Festival Orchestra, New Jersey Festival Orchestra, New Amsterdam Orchestra, Philharmonic of Southern New Jersey, and Juilliard Pre-College Symphony Orchestra among many others. She has played at venues worldwide such as Berlin Philharmonie, Concertgebouw, Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, Cathedral of St. John the Divine, The Frick Collection, Symphony Space, Tanglewood, Bergamo Festival in Italy, Salle Cortot in Paris, and SeJong Performing Arts Center in Korea. From 2012–2013, with support from the Fulbright Foundation, she toured major Steinway Halls in the U.S. and Europe.
Love and Longing is Ms. Han's debut album on the Steinway & Sons label. It was “Album of the week” on WQXR. Her second album with Steinway & Sons, Goyescas, was released in 2017 to mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of the composer, Enrique Granados. In 2019 Steinway & Sons released her recording of Le Rossignol Éperdu, a collection of 53 miniatures by French composer Reynaldo Hahn.
Ms. Han received her Bachelor’s degree from the Curtis Institute of Music, her Master of Music degree from the Juilliard School, and her Doctorate at SUNY Stony Brook. She has given seminars at Harvard University, New York University, Boston University, Berklee College of Music, Indiana University, San Francisco Conservatory, College of William & Mary, City University of New York, State University of New York, California State University, and Longy School of Music.
She was an Assistant Professor of Piano and Chamber Music and Artistic Events Coordinator at Bilkent University in Turkey from 2015–2018. She is the founder and Artistic Director of the Bilkent International Piano Festival in Turkey. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Piano at Hong Kong Baptist University.
About Steinway & Sons label
The STEINWAY & SONS music label produces exceptional albums of solo piano music across all genres. The label — a division of STEINWAY & SONS, maker of the world’s finest pianos — is a perfect vessel for producing the finest quality recordings by some of the most talented pianists in the world.