Kyuhee Park Plays

Scarlatti, Diabelli, Berkeley, Malats, Barrios & Lopez

Peter Kun Frary



Kyuhee Park. Kyuhee Park plays Scarlatti, Diabelli, Berkeley, Malats, Barrios & Lopez, 2013. CD/download. Naxos 8.753225.

The young Korean virtuoso, Kyuhee Park, is a rising star in the classical guitar world. She's been popular in Japan, Korea and Europe for a few years, with a number of tours and CDs under her belt. This Naxos disk is her North American debut and a stunning one at that. She manages to impart new life to works long considered hallmarks of Julian Bream's repertoire, e.g., Diabelli and Berkeley. Kyuhee has the grit and chops to try these pieces and managed to dodge Bream's shadow and recast these wonderful works with an amazingly fresh interpretation. She's less stormy than Bream but plays with a hauntingly beautiful tone and delicate nuance.

And, yes, she cuts loose with virtuosic vigor when called for. One of things I like about her playing is she serves the music, doesn's show off her technique for the sake of technique, and takes her time with the lyrical sections, milking the melodies. I was especially impressed with her rendering of Diabell's Sonatina.

I'm not a fan of Berkeley's music but I must say Kyuhee's shimmering tone and delicate touch made his dissonances much more agreeable than other interpretations. And her reading of Scarlatti and Barrios was truly sublime.

The actual recording itself is excellent: crystal clear, natural acoustic sound and a sense of space. These tracks make my ears think I'm sitting about 25 feet away in a nice hall. Too often guitar is recorded with close mics in a dead studio and processed to death, editing out every squeak and click. As with all acoustic guitar playing, there's some finger noise, but significantly less than Bream or Segovia tracks. Squeakless guitar recordings make me I feel like I'm listening to an organ with a "guitar stop." We do our best to minimalize squeaks but they're an irrevocable part of the guitar's sound.

Well done Kyuhee: impassioned interpretations of old standards, beautiful tone and a sonically excellent recording.

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