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Pianist Kun-woo Paik In Ambassador Debut

May 14, 1986|DANIEL CARIAGA | Times Music Writer

Theological abstractions and spiritual projections are the subjects of both Liszt's "Harmonies Poetiques et Religieuses" and Messiaen's "Vingt Regards sur l'Enfant Jesus," works of astoundingly similar perspective, though written 92 years apart.

Thus, it might seem fitting that excerpts from both sets of pieces, along with Liszt's "Saint Francois d'Assise: La Predication aux Oiseaux," made up the entirety of Kun-Woo Paik's recital at Ambassador Auditorium on Monday night.

On the other hand, this is a heavy dose of musical spiritualism, though it never exceeded Paik's impeccable grasp of both its content and its considerable technical hurdles. But it could tend to wear out an audience.

As things turned out, the prize-winning Korean pianist, who noted his 40th birthday last Saturday, wore out no one but himself in this generous program; he declined to play an encore. The only surprise in this deeply satisfying evening was that his audience was hearing this important pianist for the first time.

On the way to the climax of the agenda, the finale of the Messiaen suite ("Regard de l'eglise d'amour"), Paik displayed admirable and unflagging musical concentration and a comprehensive and effortless technical palette.

In speed, fluency, articulative powers and stamina, he meets the highest international standards. In the ability--through control of legato, dynamics and tone-differentiation--to make the instrument appear to sing, he recalls standards that have become historical.

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