We Three Strings are preparing for our first rehearsal with our guest pianist, Dr. MyungHee Chung. In the meantime, she graciously responded to the following questions.
ASQ: You’ve been praised for your “clean, strong, bell-like tone.” Does this sound lend itself better to one style of music than another, or can it adapt well to all?
MHC: The tone would be adapted to different styles and composers, i.e. Mozart would not have a strong tone, but a much more rounded, singing tone. I am sure the critic was referring to a Chopin étude and Scriabin.
ASQ: You’ve played concertos with orchestra, intimate chamber music, and solo literature; live in person, for radio broadcast, and for recordings. What are the differences in how you approach these various scenarios?
MHC: For the music itself, there is no difference. Since solo repertoire pieces have to be memorized (most of them, anyway), a big chunk of time goes into memorization. For chamber music, I don’t try to memorize, so I look at the score and listen to the entire piece, balance, etc. rather than my own performance.
ASQ: Keyboard instruments have evolved quite a bit over the centuries. When playing earlier literature on modern piano, do you aim to replicate an earlier sound, or revel in the sound of the current instrument?
MHC: I am not trying to make the piano sound like harpsichord. But I am using modern piano’s different color to create different mood.
ASQ: Following your performance with the Ancora String Quartet on October 2010, Isthmus reviewer John Barker called you a “true collaborator.” What advice do you have for pianists playing chamber music with strings, or other instruments?
MHC: Listen to other people.
ASQ: What can you tell us about the three piano quartets on this program?
MHC: Mozart is simple yet beautiful. Obviously, Turina has a Spanish flavor. I haven’t quite formed opinion on Bridge yet
ASQ: What are your current and future projects?
MHC: I have a lecture recital on Beethoven’s last three piano sonatas on April 4. I am in the process of deciding on the repertoire for the fall recital.