Yunchan Lim

Live from The Cliburn 

Liszt Transcendental Etudes


Steinway & Sons presents the debut album of Yunchan Lim, the winner of the 2022 Van Cliburn Competition with Lim’s astounding performance of Liszt’s complete Transcendental Etudes from the semi-final round of the Competition 

“Yunchan Lim is that rare artist who brings profound musicality and prodigious technique organically together.” 

– Marin Alsop 


“Lim’s playing had a quietly, calmly penetrating lucidity... there was in his performance the juxtaposition of precise clarity and expansive reverie; the vivid scenes and bursts of wit; the sense of contrasting yet organically developing moods; the endless and persuasive bendings of time.”

— New York Times

“Lim has plenty to offer beyond internet hype, and his debut with the New York Philharmonic showed that he is an artist capable of considerably more than the usual technical fireworks.”                  

 — Financial Times

“Lim displayed mind-boggling virtuosity and interpretive depth scarcely imaginable in one so young... he gave as brilliant a performance as you’ll ever hear of Liszt’s Transcendental Etudes, containing some of the hardest music ever composed for piano.” 

— Dallas Morning News


“Where mature pianists tend to show off in Liszt, Yunchan veers to introspection, looking for the transcendence of the work’s title rather than instant stardom. The effect is hypnotic from the prelude on. Yunchan plays the notes – all of them – as pathways to a surreal elsewhere.” 

La Scena

“One of the most fascinating interpretations I have heard of this twelve-part work, not because Lim has such a supremely brilliant technique and can play with enormous virtuosity, but because he has so internalized Liszt’s tonal language that everything sounds very natural and indeed transcendental.”

— Pizzicato

“Lim’s performance, combining tension and excitement, poetry and vigour, was astonishing... exceptional fluidity and passionate intensity.” 
 — Bachtrack

“Every single one of the études is captivating in its own way, with Lim performing each as a complete work in itself while also approaching every one as part of a larger whole in a way that creates breath-holding anticipation for what will come next. This is a stunning performance, electrifying in its combination of sheer bravura with emotionally trenchant expressivity.”   

 — Infodad

“This is, unquestionably, a great piano recording. In this young pianist's hands you will hear one of the finest-ever performances of the 12 Transcendental Studies, and I include all those made in the studio or captured, as here, live in front of an audience without a safety net. To play this ferociouslv demanding music with such technical perfection and poetic insight in any concert performance is something, but to do so while taking part in the semi-finals of a maior international piano competition is nothing short of miraculous.” 

 — Gramophone

“What aplomb Lim brings to the opening C major curtain-raiser, what fierce clarity to the intricate patterning of the following A minor… Elsewhere his command is as unfaltering as it is head-spinning, ablaze with strength and savagely fast tempos that few would risk” 

International Piano

“This Liszt performance... is stupefying. Gawp as Lim’s tremolos flutter then thunder in his ‘Chasse-neige,’ and wonder how he gives each of them such poetic meaning. Tremble as he stomps his way through ‘Mazeppa,’ then forgive yourself for swooning so readily at the twilight magic of his ‘Harmonies du soir.’”

— New York Times

“Lim produces an astonishingly wide dynamic range when required but the abiding impression is of the sophistication of his expressive range too with lyrical passages delivered with sensitivity and restraint. Another recurring, indeed striking, feature of this playing is the clarity – not just of note to note articulation but of musical thought and process... This disc bears witness to the international arrival of a musician of authoritative stature and charismatic presence.”

— MusicWeb International

“In "Mazeppa"... Lim goes for broke. He has a huge tone and an exceptionally powerful left hand, so thrills are guaranteed... in the earlier études (“Preludio,” “Fusées,” and “Paysage”), he shows the kind of technical freedom and musicality that brings up Trifonov as a viable comparison. Lim has other qualities pianophiles look for. The texture of “Feux follets” is gossamer, the rhythms buoyant, and the independence of the pianist’s two hands remarkable.” 

— Fanfare

“Lim’s performances.. are astonishing. Competition performances often have a well-practiced, safe quality, but not this one; Lim goes out onto the edge and stays there. Sample at will, and note that he tends to give quieter passages an almost harsh quality; his method is to raise the tension, which he knows he can dissipate in brilliant, tumultuous passagework. What’s more, he accomplishes these utterly distinctive performances in Liszt’s Transcendental Etudes, often-recorded works that are commonplace in the competition repertory.”

— AllMusic Guide

“Lim’s effortless virtuosity and total immersion into Liszt’s idiom indeed define transcendental. His shapely and perfectly proportioned Preludio sets the stage for numerous felicities to come, such as the pianist’s playful command of the Second Etude’s unwieldy leaps and broken double notes... His suave and sweeping dispatch of Mazeppa’s thorny textures conveys minimum bluster and maximum nobility.


“Lim’s titanic technical command is unsurprising; his unflagging communicative passion is less common; and his instinctive understanding of Liszt’s hyper-Romantic language, his native grasp of phrase and texture and tempo, is something entirely out of the ordinary... I can think of no greater compliment than to say that Lim plays as if he is making it all up on the spot.”

— New Yorker

“Lim’s flawless and seemingly unlimited virtuosity is always at the service of the music...This is a performance for the ages.”

American Record Guide

Album Credits

Yunchan Lim Live From The Cliburn - Liszt: Transcendental Etudes • STNS 30217

Release Date: 07/07/2023

Recorded June 10, 2022 at Bass Performance Hall, Fort Worth, Texas
Semifinal Round of the Sixteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition
Producer: Jacques Marquis, President and CEO, The Cliburn
Recorded, Engineered, and Mastered by Tom Lazarus

Executive Producers: Eric Feidner, Jon Feidner, Vivian Chiu
Art Direction: Jackie Fugere
Design: Cover to Cover Design, Anilda Carrasquillo
Cover Photo: Richard Rodriguez, The Cliburn
Remaining Photos: Lisa-Marie Mazzucco
Artist Liaison: Rosalie Burrell
Production Assistant: Renée Oakford
Piano: Steinway Model D #607046 (New York) 


About the Artist


In June 2022, Yunchan Lim became the youngest person ever to win gold at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition; his performances throughout showcased a “magical ability” and a “natural, instinctive quality” (La Scena) that astounded listeners around the world. As Jury Chair Marin Alsop expressed: “Yunchan is that rare artist who brings profound musicality and prodigious technique organically together.” The depth of his artistry and connection to listeners also secured him the Audience Award and Best Performance of a New Work. 

Just 19 years old, Yunchan’s ascent to international stardom has been meteoric. His audacious Cliburn Semifinal Round performance of Liszt’s Transcendental Etudes “created a buzz throughout the international piano community”—his “intelligent virtuosity and total immersion into Liszt’s idiom truly defined transcendental” (Gramophone). And his final Cliburn Competition appearance with Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 3 delivered the defining moment of the three-week event. One critic noted: “The applause that followed was endless: a star had emerged before our eyes” (Seen and Heard International); The Economist hailed him for making “each note crystalline, purposeful and often startlingly beautiful;” and The New York Times listed it as one of the Top 10 Classical Music Performances of 2022. The video of that performance trended globally on YouTube in the days after, reaching #24, and has now become the most-watched version of that piece on the platform, amassing over 10 million views in eight months.

Invitations from the most prestigious concert halls and orchestras immediately followed: recent and upcoming highlights across North America, Europe, and Asia include concerto engagements with the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Baltimore Symphony, and Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestras, and Orchestre de Paris; festival appearances at Aspen, Bravo! Vail, and Ravinia; and recitals for Carnegie Hall, Washington Performing Arts at the Kennedy Center, Wigmore Hall, Fondation Louis Vuitton, Suntory Hall, and Seoul Arts Center, among other major stages. 

Born in Siheung, Korea, Yunchan Lim began piano lessons at age 7, when it was time to choose an after-school activity; he entered the Music Academy of the Seoul Arts Center the next year and quickly became immersed in his musical studies. He auditioned for and was accepted into the Korea National Institute for the Gifted in Arts at age 13, where he met his teacher and mentor, Minsoo Sohn. Yunchan entered the international music stage a year later, in 2018, winning second prize and the Chopin Special Award in his first-ever competition, the Cleveland International Piano Competition for Young Artists. Also that year, he stood out as the youngest participant in the Cooper International Competition, where he won both third prize and the audience prize, and was provided the opportunity to perform with the Cleveland Orchestra. The next year, 2019, brought more accolades, when, at the age of 15, he was the youngest to win Korea’s IsangYun International Competition, also taking home two special prizes.

Yunchan has previously performed across South Korea—including with the Korean Orchestra Festival, Korea Symphony, Suwon Philharmonic, and Busan Philharmonic Orchestras, among others—as well as in Madrid, at the invitation of the Korea Cultural Center in Spain. He participated in the recording of “2020 Young Musicians of Korea,” organized by the Korean Broadcasting System and released that November.   

Speaking at a press conference after the Competition, Yunchan said, “I made up my mind that I will live my life only for the sake of music, and I decided that I will give up everything for music… I wanted my music to become deeper, and if that desire reached the audience, I’m satisfied.” 


About THE CLiburn

Widely considered one of the preeminent international music contests, the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition exists to launch the careers of its winners every four years and to share excellent classical music with the largest international audience possible. Building on a rich tradition that began with its 1962 origins in honor of Van Cliburn and his vision for using music to serve audiences and break down boundaries, the Cliburn seeks, with each edition, to achieve the highest artistic standards while utilizing contemporary tools to advance its reach. 

The sixteenth edition of the Cliburn Competition took place June 2–18, 2022 in Fort Worth, Texas at the brand-new Van Cliburn Concert Hall at TCU and Bass Performance Hall. The world’s top 18- to 30-year-old pianists competed for gold in front of a live audience in Fort Worth, Texas, as well as a global online fanbase that grew exponentially during and following the event. The fully produced webcast included all 28 Competition live performances—as well as offered insightful commentary and behind-the-scenes access emulating a news- or sportscast—and amassed more than 40 million views in 2022, making it one of the most watched classical music events in history.

Beyond winning cash prizes, the three medalists receive a comprehensive and personalized career management package, including three years of concert bookings, artistic planning mentorship, traditional and social media training, logistics support, and tax and financial planning guidance, as well as promotional packages. For the laureates of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, competing in—and winning—the global cultural event marks only the beginning of their professional lives in music. The Competition is foremost a launch pad for establishing meaningful careers.

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.

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