For her Steinway & Sons label debut, the acclaimed pianist Kay Kyung Eun Kim invites listeners on a transformative journey into the boundless realm of contemporary piano compositions.
Field’s "Three Passions for our Tortured Planet" was written for Kim in 2019 and was composed to spread the word about climate change through music.
On January 5, 2024, renowned pianist Kay Kyung Eun Kim releases her highly anticipated Steinway & Sons debut album (STNS 30230). Aptly titled Soundscape , this exceptional collection showcases the artistry of Ms. Kim as she interprets the masterful works of three contemporary composers. With a unifying vision, these compositions converge to form a harmonious and evocative sonic landscape.
Born in 1936, Philip Glass's “Metamorphosis I and “Metamorphosis II” are quintessential examples of minimalist music. Written in 1988 as part of a five-movement piano suite, these pieces exemplify Glass's trademark repetitive patterns and gradual harmonic shifts. “Metamorphosis I” begins with a gentle, mesmerizing melody that evolves incrementally, inviting listeners into a trance-like state. In contrast, “Metamorphosis II” possesses a more subdued and introspective character, with cascading arpeggios and simple yet poignant harmonies. Glass's minimalist approach encourages listeners to immerse themselves in the subtle nuances of repetition and gradual transformation.
John Corigliano (b 1938), on the other hand, takes us on a strikingly different journey with "Fantasia on an Ostinato" and "Etude Fantasies 1-5." "Fantasia on an Ostinato," composed in 1985, is an emotionally charged work that borrows the relentless repeating bass line from Beethoven's Symphony No. 7. Corigliano reimagines this ostinato with a contemporary twist, crafting a piece that builds tension and intensity through rhythmic and harmonic variations. The result is a captivating exploration of a timeless motif within a modern context.
“Etude Fantasies 1-5” further exemplify Corigliano's inventive prowess. These etudes, composed between 1979 and 1985, reflect a diverse range of moods and techniques. From the playful and quirky character of the first etude to the introspective and introspective nature of the third, Corigliano showcases his ability to seamlessly blend traditional piano etude forms with contemporary expressions. Each etude offers a unique narrative and technical challenge for the performer, making them a fascinating exploration of the piano's capabilities.
Concluding the album, Brian Field (b. 1967) offers a further unique perspective on the sonic landscape in his three-movement suite “Three Passions for our Tortured Planet” – a work focused on themes of global climate change. The first movement (“…fire…”) is a reflection on the forest fires raging across California and the American West on a recurring, and increasingly alarming basis. The work starts with an ostinato “spark,” that flickers and quickly spreads, growing more complicated. The fire begins to rage loudly, and across register, building to a climax which eventually becomes more controlled, as it burns itself out and dies.
The second movement (“…glaciers…”) is a distant, stately movement that depicts the enormous ices on earth’s poles. These slow, ponderous moments are sporadically interrupted by rapidly falling, thundering episodes, depicting the shearing of the glacial ice with ever-warming temperatures.
Concluding the suite is the third movement (“…winds…”). This virtuosic finale begins with running winds that become increasingly intense and hurricane/typhoon-like in their destructiveness before dissipating into a barely noticeable breeze.
This exciting program presents a compelling juxtaposition of three composers, each with their distinctive musical language. Philip Glass's “Metamorphosis I” and “Metamorphosis II” invite us to contemplate the beauty of minimalism and gradual transformation, while John Corigliano's "Fantasia on an Ostinato" and “Etude Fantasies 1-5” push the boundaries of contemporary expression and reinterpretation. Brian Field’s “Three Passions for our Tourtured Planet” suite fuses a multiplicity of styles to bring listeners into a more programmatic journey in climate change themes. Together, these works offer a rich tapestry of musical exploration, demonstrating the enduring power of contemporary classical music to evolve and adapt to new creative horizons.
“A chic, stylish and modern pianist”
“A warm and sensitive, dynamic and fearless pianist.”
“Kay’s performance and interpretation of my piano suite ‘Three Passions for our Tortured Planet’ on her latest album, Soundscape, captures all of the nuances and emotions I intended. Her dazzling technical skill and sensitivity to the music will surely make this a definitive recording of the work.”
“Kay Kim is a virtuoso pianist who plays my music with appropriate abandon and a keen sense of style. Her performance of my ‘Fantasia On An Ostinatio’ is particularly special.”
Soundscape / Kay Kyung Eun Kim • STNS 30230
Release Date: 1/5/2024
Recorded September 5-7, 2023 at Bucheon Art Center, South Korea
Producer: Jin Choi
Recording/Mastering:Sempre la musica
Recording Engineers: Kyung-Wook Kim, Jongwon Shin
Editing: Hari Yim
Piano: Steinway Model D #615547
Executive Producers: Eric Feidner, Jon Feidner
Art Direction: Jackie Fugere
Design: Cover to Cover Design, Anilda Carrasquillo
Photography: Cheol H. Park
Project Coordinator: Renée Oakford
About the Artist
Pianist Kay Kyung Eun Kim, prize-winner of the 6th Mozart International Piano Competition, has been praised as a “chic, stylish and modern pianist” by the International Piano Magazine, while The Piano Magazine described her as a “warm and sensitive, dynamic and fearless pianist.”
At the age of six, Kay and her family moved to London. Two years after moving, Kay was one of only five students selected by the Yehudi Menuhin School to study with Nicolai Demidenko. She continued her studies at The Purcell School under the tutelage of Irina Zaritskaya. During her time living in London, Kay spent time with Vlado Perlemuter each summer, who was the last living pupil of Ravel at the time. It was this relationship that enamored her with Ravel’s works, eventually leading Kay to begin a six-year project entitled Ravel Complete Piano Works in 2016. In this series, Kay performed all Ravel’s solo and duo piano works as well as Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G Major. The project culminated with Kay’s CD, Ravel, released by Sony Classical in June 2021. On this album, Kay performs her favorite works by Ravel: “Jeux d’eau”, “Miroirs”, and “Gaspard de la nuit”.
At 16, Kay was one of the youngest applicants admitted to The Juilliard School, where, as a student of both Jerome Lowenthal and Seymour Lipkin, she earned her Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees. In 2004, Kay pursued both her Professional Studies and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees under Solomon Mikowsky at The Manhattan School of Music. Kay’s DMA dissertation was on Unsuk Chin’s Piano Concerto.
Kay debuted at age 10 with the Korean Symphony Orchestra. Since then, she has performed with a multitude of distinguished orchestras, including the Seoul National Symphony and the Youth Orchestra, the State Academic Symphony and the St. Petersburg Orchestra, the Hong Kong Philharmonic, the Hradec Kralove Philharmonic and the Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra, the Orquestra do Norte, the Kammer Philharmonie Dacapo Orchestra, the Orquesta Sinfonica de la Region de Murcia, and the Topeka Symphony and the Albany Symphony Orchestra in the US.
Recital venues at which Kay has performed include the South Bank Centre and Buckingham Palace, Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, the Seoul Arts Center, and Kumho Hall as a part of their “Rising Stars” series. In 1997, Kay gave a charity concert in London to raise support for young victims of the Chernobyl disaster. Her performance was broadcast on Classical FM radio.
Since returning to Seoul in 2010, Kay has dedicated her time to both teaching at the Catholic University of Korea as well as continuing her passion for contemporary works through her performances. Kay has given many Korean premieres of contemporary works. Her recitals included Afternoon in Paris”, Sonata Journey, Musical Portraits, and Fantasy and Reality at the Seoul Arts Center, which showcased innovative piano techniques. Kay’s second CD with Sony Classical, Dreams, was released in June 2022. The album is a collection of 14 short popular piano works by Debussy, Satie, Ravel, Brahms, Chopin, Liszt and Brahms.
Kay is a Steinway Artist and is represented by Rainbow Bridge Management.
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.