Lim Yunchan Performs a Rachmaninoff for the Ages

Van Cliburn


Picture by Chris Lee

Nicholas Yoo, Editor-in-Chief

19-year old pianist, Lim Yun-Chan made a thunderous debut with the New York Philharmonic on May 10 at the newly rennovated David Geffen Hall, performing Sergei Rachmaninoff’s “powerful yet poetic” Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor. In a special first half of the program, conductor James Gaffigan led the orchestra with Sergei Prokofiev’s explosive Symphony No. 3 as well as a Valentin Silvestrov’s sweet choral “Prayer for Ukraine.” Despite the amazing performances by the orchestra alone, the highlight of the three evenings was Lim’s playing.

In a performance described as a “dream” by the New York Times, Chan’s musical prowess was on full display to the audience, if they had not already been fans, they surely would be converts.  A combination of his clear articulation and establishing a dream-like atmosphere along with quick-paced humor and drama helped develop several tones and moods throughout the 40-minute concerto.

This once in a lifetime concert was one of Lim’s first major professional performances outside his native South Korea, but even before this, he was already an internationally-acclaimed star and fan favorite. As the youngest-ever winner of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition just last year as an 18-year old, he went on to also win Best Performance of a New Work as well as the Audience Prize with his video of the piano concerto amassing over 11 million views on YouTube.

While sheer numbers of views on YouTube can always mean overhyped artists or a veil covering quality, Lim’s poetic performance truly deserved the hype it received.

Lim returns to the New York stage once again next season at Carnegie Hall performing an all-Chopin program of etudes.