Yunchan Lim finds transcendence

Yunchan Lim finds transcendence

Album Of The Week

norman lebrecht

July 08, 2023

From the Lebrecht Album of the Week:

The world awoke to Yunchan Lim in the Rachmaninov concerto final of the Van Cliburn competition when the conductor, Marin Alsop, was seen wiping away a tear in wonderment at this astonishing young talent. Just 19 at the time, Yunchan has been pursued ever since with media deals. He says he prefers to spend his time on a Korean mountain, contemplating infinity.

This, his debut recording, is a live take of the semi-final round of the Van Cliburn…

More here.

And here.

In The Critic here.

In Czech here.


  • Mark Mortimer says:

    In a word- astonishing

  • Gerry Feinsteen says:

    A young artist of the highest calibre and maturity.
    We can only hope his manager lets him be himself. Please don’t make silly YouTube videos or post nonsense on instagram. That’s for the Curtis grads.
    Mr Lim doesn’t need fans—he is wanted the world over for his musicianship.
    Leave him alone. There’s much more to be done in the mountains.

    Finally, an artist of the late 19th C in the early 21st.

    • David says:

      Sir, Lim was a high school boy when he posted videos on YTube. As a teenager, he has every right to “have fun with his friends”. If that displeases those who demand a domineering maestro from Lim, so be it.

  • Short Yu says:

    Much more mature and musical pianist at the age of 20 than Lang Lang at 40.

  • Violinista says:

    Norman you omitted to mention the fine playing of the Fort Worth Symphony in the Van Cliburn competition, and yes we all know about Marin’s ‘stage tears’.

    • SlippedChat says:

      I don’t understand the comment about Alsop’s “stage tears.” Are you suggesting they were a performance for public viewing but were not sincere, or even that they were fake, i.e., factually nonexistent despite the gesture of wiping her eye?

      I’m now a senior but have been listening to classical music since university years, and I hope I’ll never become jaded, i.e., lose the capacity to be deeply moved by extraordinary performances Since I was indeed moved by Lim’s performance at the Cliburn, it wouldn’t, and didn’t, surprise me that even a seasoned conductor might similarly have been moved by this astonishing display of talent, of technique in the service of poetry.

      • Musicnut Jim says:

        Bravo!!! Emotions can be real for real reasons counter to this superficial (non)intellect world we live in.

  • Bee says:

    Enjoy listening to Yunchan’s recording. It seems music talks to me. Btw he was just 18 at the time and turned 19 this March. Please see this press announcement from the Van Cliburn…

  • Ludwig's Van says:

    The world awakened well before his Rach #3 in the finals – with this very performance in the semi-final round! In fact everyone awakened before he even played the first note – nobody believed an 18 year old would dare to program the 12 Liszt Transcendental Etudes! But the floor of the hall was soon literally covered with jaws. And for those ready to dismiss him as a finger freak, listen to his Beethoven 3rd concerto from this same event – this kid is the real deal.

  • Seunghyun Nahm says:

    Actually, Yunchan Lim was 18 years old at the time of Van Cliburn Competition. Of course he is 19 years old now. I wish I could be healthy enought to enjoy his music for long time.

  • Ernest says:

    When Martha embraced Yunchan after his performance at the Esplanade in Singapore last year:

  • Peter San Diego says:

    To my ears (and mind), he optimally combines the poetry of Arrau (no mean virtuoso) with the virtuosity of Trifonov (no mean poet). Perhaps more people will at last treat (most of) these etudes as music worthy of the most serious attention.

  • David says:

    To be precise, this is his third CD release. First one was Liszt’s Annes de P (Italy) and the second, Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto. Those two were released in Korea.

  • James Musicnut says:

    Wisdom, fearlessness, and humbleness can thrive harmoniously in the spirit of Yunchan…May he be respected and admired without the intrusion of the WORLD….Observe and Admire in a humble way!

  • Trifonovfan says:

    Yunchan just performed his astonishing Rach 3 at the Bravo Vail Music Festival and the Hollywood Bowl.
    He displayed even more virtuosity, clarity and depth than at the Cliburn Competition – complete with a monumental Ossia Cadenza and a warp speed Coda..