[INTERVIEW] Radio New Zealand - 2013 Wallace Piano Comp winner back in town

2013 Wallace Piano Comp winner back in town

From Upbeat, 1:00 pm on 29 July 2019

2013 Wallace National Piano Competition winner Jason Bae is back in the country performing in Wellington tonight and Auckland next week.

Pianist Jason Bae & HRH Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, United Kingdom. Photo: Associated Press

Pianist Jason Bae & HRH Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, United Kingdom. Photo: Associated Press

Jason Bae has been described as “an enterprising, exploratory and heroic performer” and he’s bringing that flair to the concert hall this week and next performing works by Berg, Grieg and Dutilleux.

In 2016 he was appointed as a Steinway Artist, the first New Zealander to be given that title.

He talks with David Morriss about his success, being back in New Zealand and what it was like meeting Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex.

Jason is performing tonight at the Cathedral of St Paul in Wellington at 5.40pm and next week at the Bentley Showroom on Great North Road in Auckland on August 8.

[INTERVIEW] 榜样力量,励志人生 27岁韩裔新西兰施坦威艺术家Jason Bae

榜样力量,励志人生 27岁韩裔新西兰施坦威艺术家Jason Bae

加拿大施坦威钢琴  今天


Jason Bae

这位年轻的韩裔新西兰钢琴家在20岁成为青少年施坦威艺术家,25岁成为施坦威艺术家,以一等荣誉学位毕业于奥克兰大学,而后于英国皇家音乐学院获得钢琴演奏硕士。他曾为新西兰前总理海伦克拉克两次表演,是奥克兰大学全球40名“40岁以下杰出校友”中的一员。目前,他担任韩国首尔爱乐乐团副指挥,也是乐团成立以来最年轻的副指挥。

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3月17日,他受Revival Arts音乐总监David Xu 邀请来到温哥华,于通利琴行开展了3个小时大师课,并进行了温哥华的首次个人独奏音乐会。他所展现的极高驾驭能力是少见的,他的非凡表现让人很难相信他年仅27岁。

从左至右:Revival Arts策划总监Iris Huang,通利琴行总经理Iris Fan, 施坦威艺术家Jason Bae,通利琴行产品经理Carolyn Jao, 特邀来宾Louis Lu, Revival Arts艺术总监David Xu

从左至右:Revival Arts策划总监Iris Huang,通利琴行总经理Iris Fan, 施坦威艺术家Jason Bae,通利琴行产品经理Carolyn Jao, 特邀来宾Louis Lu, Revival Arts艺术总监David Xu

惊艳表现,完美驾驭

当天,Jason Bae为大家带来了四首曲目。其中,最为人所知的是德彪西的被遗忘的意象集,以轻飘的吟诵伴随着极柔软的音阶琶音开篇,以轻抚和强音交错的急迫为终曲。除此之外,另外三首曲目都是比较“冷门”的作品。包括挪威作曲家Grieg的G小调叙事曲,Jason用以强力音量和令人窒息的紧密节奏铺陈了多个变奏,展现出进程中的副主题的冲突,并在最终回归作品的主题,庄重的哀伤。

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另一个作品,则是俄国作曲家Medtner的奏鸣曲Tragica-悲剧,这首曲子完成于俄国十月革命前,不同于其他钢琴家演奏时不加修饰的倾力,Jason用高超的技巧保有了一种克制。第三首,则是芬兰作曲家Salonen的Dichotomie-二分法。作品分为上下乐章,题目分别是Mecanisme-机械和Organisme-有机,上篇以反复进行和不断冲突为主旨,下篇以试探性地左右手反复承接表达了一种渗透性的流动。

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Jason告诉我们,他欣赏很多我们这个时代的作曲家,他认为,他们的作品需要被演奏,需要被发扬光大。在场观众无一不被他的表现所惊艳,从他的选曲,到他对钢琴的控制,包括音色的处理,流畅性的把控,和瞬间爆发力。钢琴仿佛已经成为他的一部分,对于弹钢琴这件事,他所以可以随心所欲。我们非常好奇,在这个年纪,他是怎么做到,他也毫不吝啬和我们分享他的过去。


从韩国到新西兰,一切归零

Jason1991年出生于韩国大田,11岁随着家人移民新西兰。但是,他的父母在这个时候离异了,他和母亲被迫被切断一切经济来源,在异国他乡“一切归零”。他的妈妈,不得不被迫同时打几份工,做过包括收银员、服务员等各种工作。但在这种情况下,他的妈妈也坚持让他学琴。Jason做了自己唯一能做的事情,他以每天10个小时的练琴时间,以在钢琴比赛获奖赢得奖金,来支持自己的家庭。

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珍视才华的恩师

在某一次比赛中,有一位评委看出了他刚刚展露的才华,在Jason母亲的争取下,她将Jason收为弟子,她就是奥克兰大学的教授Dr. Raede Lisle。从此Jason的才华得到了充分的提炼,他开始在各大比赛所向披靡。但是,因为家里经济出现状况,他的学琴之路曾一度要走向尽头。也是从这时期,他的老师开始免费辅导他长达8年时间,直到他从奥克兰大学毕业。

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这也是为什么,17岁的Jason被耶鲁大学和加州Colburn音乐学院同时以全额奖学金录取,但却最终拒绝,因为老师认为他并未准备好面对外面的世界,所以他听从老师的意见选择了奥克兰大学,自费留在新西兰。他说道:她是我的第二个母亲。

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正是Dr Lisle对音乐才华的珍视,才成就了一个未来的钢琴大师。你很难想象,在这个年代,会有老师愿意免费辅导一个孩子这么多年,因为这不是义务,而是一种恩赐。不幸是无孔不入的,幸运却是一种偶然。很显然,来自妈妈和老师两个女人的支持,成就了一个杰出艺术家的未来。

音符的国王,靠想象力练琴

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他们住在离奥克兰40公里的地方,仿佛和现代文明脱节。Jason也说,这种经历,让他前往伦敦后都很不适应。他说,别的孩子是刷着iPhone长大的,这个时候他还在跟羊打架。我们很好奇他当时弹的是什么琴。他告诉我们,是一台从韩国飘洋过海来到新西兰的韩国产立式琴,琴到新西兰的时候八根琴弦都是坏的,调音更是无从说起,Jason笑着称之为“Bloody Piano”。他都是靠想象力在练琴,当他弹下一个音的时候,他不是用耳朵在听,而是用脑子在听,他说他就像一个国王。也是靠着这台“Bloody piano”,Jason赢下了所有钢琴比赛,所向披靡。

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绝不坐以待毙

跟随着Jason的故事,你也能听出来,他在困难前不会捶胸顿足,他和他的妈妈一样非常坚强,问题出现,他最关心的,是解决问题,而不是坐以待毙。Jason说他的中学去的是当地的一所公立男校,全校共2000名学生,多数是高大的本地人,认为弹钢琴是女性化的,很多学生别说欣赏钢琴,甚至都没有见过钢琴。可以想象,“生存”下来是很难得。

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作为全校唯一弹钢琴的学生,他每次音乐会都会考察场地,选曲也会选择那种曲速极快的,音量极强的,比如拉赫马尼诺夫。他很无奈地说,这可比弹肖邦钢琴比赛还难,因为你要想着,怎么才能通过你的“超高技巧”吸引台下人的注意,让他们不要走神。

“我是谁?”

这种过去的经历和他的现在仿佛也映衬成了“二分法”,让他成为一个冲突的统一。从新西兰离开前往英国后,伦敦和奥克兰的先进程度的巨大差异,曾经让他“崩溃”了很久,无比思乡。通过一年多的适应,他才真正融入了新西兰外的世界,开始新生。英国皇家音乐学院毕业后两年,他在英国当自由独奏家,面临签证即将过期,他选择前往了韩国。因为他想更深地探究,自己是谁,代表着什么。

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当一个人可以很平静地讨论过去时,说明他已经走向了新生。现在,Jason毕业已经三年了,受邀前往世界各地演奏,过去的种种经历也慢慢成为了一种回忆。他和世界各地的音乐家敞开心扉,也不再只弹俄国音乐了。他告诉我们,不管巴赫还是拉赫马尼诺夫,不管现代派还是古典派,音乐的表现形式千变万化,但触及的内核是相似的。正在韩国继续进修指挥的他,正以一种全新的态度拥抱未来。现在的他,对法国作曲家的作品深感兴趣,所以他演奏的德彪西,另有一番境界。

榜样的力量

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钢琴表演,是一门艺术,而艺术需要极高的投入。很多家境困难的孩子,以及他们的父母,或许根本不敢想象自己可以在艺术上有所建树。Jason说,自己的家境远谈不上优渥,甚至不到中产。他知道,不是每个孩子都能拥有最好的钢琴,受到最好的教育。但至少,我们不应该劝任何想要继续坚持的孩子放弃。

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他会定期回到新西兰,自己的中学进行免费的大师班和钢琴演奏。他说,“我要做的,就是和他们在一起,我相信,新西兰有无限的潜力”。他也说,新西兰是一个移民国家,他想传递一个信息,就是不管你来自哪里,不管你是什么肤色,你都能通过自己的努力在社会上赢得一席之地。你能感受到,他对新西兰有一种深深的爱。他也表示,在韩国一年多以来,他反而越来越认识到自己的来处,他说自己是kiwi,有着不可磨灭的新西兰印记,因为新西兰的中学教育伴随着他从儿童走向了成年,真正定义了他是谁。

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另类学琴

听完Jason这种另类的学琴故事,我们是很吃惊的。因为在风光秀丽的温哥华,大部分孩子早早开始学琴,父母和老师都不吝啬花费大量的时间、金钱和精力。我们很难想象,在远在大洋洲的新西兰,一个男孩是靠着弹坏了8根弦的钢琴补贴家用,赢得同龄人的尊重,并最终成为施坦威艺术家,知名乐团指挥的。我们很荣幸他能来到温哥华开大师班,演奏,以及分享他的经历,也很感谢他带给我们的灵感。期待他不久的将来重返温哥华,并祝福他走向更大的舞台。

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从他的故事,我们也能学到,钢琴演奏的优劣,与本身的努力及对音乐的领悟与执着有着不可分割的关系,外在的环境不应该成为借口,学习钢琴的孩子也应该以他为榜样,努力提升音乐的修养及技巧。

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[Award] Jason is in 2018 '40 Under 40' Winners in University of Auckland.

2018 "‘40 Under 40’ Winners of University of Auckland.

Jason Bae

Concert pianist, Steinway artist - Steinway & Sons.

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Being given three days’ notice you’re about to move to a new country would be a daunting prospect for most people. When you’re just ten years old and you don’t even speak the language of the country you’re moving to the prospect is all the more terrifying.

However, for Jason Bae the move from Daejeon, South Korea to Auckland in 2002 would not only change his life but set him on course to showcase and develop his musical talents in a way he was yet to fully appreciate.

Enrolling in Whangaparaoa School as a fee paying international student, his mother would soon  discover to her horror she had been the victim of a fraudulent scam involving the money that had been paid to the immigration agent for Jason’s fees which hadn’t been passed on to the school.

Following a tense meeting with the school’s principal, which included demonstrating the accomplished young pianist’s considerable talent, quickly secured him a place at the school allowing him to make his concert debut with the Auckland Symphony Orchestra three years later at the age of just 12.

“To this day I say my mother sold my talent, but I have no regrets. Music was a part of me so I had no choice but to progress.”

But it wasn’t easy being one of the only Asian students at the school who couldn’t communicate with anyone and feeling very much in the minority. Jason remembers for the first three months he said absolutely nothing.

“I was effectively living as a mute. I couldn’t understand what was being said to me and I couldn’t communicate with other students so I didn’t say anything. However, I excelled in maths which of course didn’t require English. But over time I started to learn a few words and bit by bit my language skills gradually improved. I would’ve liked to have had tutoring but my mum couldn’t afford it so I just had to learn things for myself.”

However, starting at Westlake Boys High was to change everything when it came to English as well as allowing his obvious musical talents to be fully embraced at his new school. “I had a great English teacher at Westlake, Alex Reed, and I have to thank him for developing my proficiency in English which allowed me to gain direct entry to university at the end of Year 12, ironically because of my marks in English rather than maths.”

Invited to attend the prestigious Aspen Musical Festival in the United States for two months each year, while a student at Westlake, required extra work to catch up when he got back. “I learnt to work hard, however it was good preparation for my time at university.”

Completing his Bachelor of Music in piano performance with First Class Honours in 2013 and subsequently completing his Master of Arts in piano performance with the highest distinction award, ‘DipRAM’ at the Royal Academy of Music in London in 2015, his success was all the more notable given his academic performance in his first year of his Masters.

“Despite all my performance experience and the preparation I’d done in my undergraduate degree, when I got to London I realised the other students were at a much higher standard as a result of attending specialist music schools from an early age. So despite working extremely hard I managed to get the lowest mark in the whole school in my first year, but I was rewarded for all my work with the 2nd highest mark and the highest distinction award “DipRAM” in my final year.”

Jason has high expectations for his future career, including a goal to become the first South Korean born kiwi to be the next music director of the NZ Symphony Orchestra. But he is humbled by the many people who have supported him on his journey to this point.

“I’m particularly grateful to Prof. Rae de Lisle at the School of Music who accepted me as her private pupil. Also Dr Allan Badley who taught me an ultimate musical history with music theory which I use to this very day, Dr Leonie Holmes who developed by aural training which I’m so grateful to have as an aspiring conductor as well as Dr Karen Grylls who has helped me to develop my singing and choral conducting which is essential to many musicians.”

And the principal of Whangaparaoa School will also be pleased at his decision to offer a place to the shy young boy from South Korea who couldn’t speak a word of English when they first met.

Jason performs at the Grand Opening Night of "Oceania" Exhibition in Royal Academy of Arts, London attended by the HRH Duchess of Sussex, Meghan.

Royal Academy of Arts

OCEANIA

29 September - 10 December 2018

Marking 250 years since Cook’s first voyage to the Pacific, we celebrate the dazzling and diverse art of the region of Oceania, from the historic to the contemporary.

The year is 1768, and Britain is in the throes of the Age of Enlightenment. As a group of artists agrees to found the Royal Academy, Captain James Cook sets sail on a voyage of discovery to track the transit of Venus and search for terra australis incognita – the unknown southern continent, as Europeans called it. What Cook and his crew encounter on arrival is a vast number of island civilisations covering almost a third of the world’s surface: from Tahiti in Polynesia, to the scattered archipelagos and islands of Melanesia and Micronesia.

The indigenous populations they met came with their own histories of inter-island trade, ocean navigation, and social and artistic traditions. This spectacular exhibition reveals these narratives – celebrating the original, raw and powerful art that in time would resonate across the European artistic sphere.

Oceania brings together around 200 exceptional works from public collections worldwide, and spans over 500 years. From shell, greenstone and ceramic ornaments, to huge canoes and stunning god images, we explore important themes of voyaging, place making and encounter. The exhibition draws from rich historic ethnographic collections dating from the 18th century to the present, and includes seminal works produced by contemporary artists exploring history, identity and climate change.

Oceania has been organised by the Royal Academy of Arts, London and Musée du Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac, Paris, with the participation of the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge.

The Grand Opening of “Oceania” took place on 25th September 2018 and it was attended by HRH Duchess of Sussex, Meghan and New Zealand Steinway Artist Jason Bae performed on Michael Parekowhai’s “He Kōrero Pūrākau mo Te Awanui o Te Motu: story of New Zealand River” (2011) - Steinway Model D on this very special occasion.

[Review] Jason Bae – an enterprising, exploratory and heroic performer

Jason Bae – an enterprising, exploratory and heroic performer

By Peter Mechen, 13/04/2018

Te Kōkī New Zealand School Of Music

A recital by Jason Bae

Debussy – Images oubliées
Esa-Pekka Salonen – Dichotomie (NZ Premiere)
Grieg – Ballade Op.24
Medtner – Piano Sonata No.11 Sonata tragica Op.39 No.5

Jason Bae (piano)

Adam Concert Room,
Te Kōkī New Zealand School Of Music,
Victoria University of Wellington

Friday, 13th April 2018

Korean-born NZ-adopted pianist Jason Bae made a welcome return a week ago to the Wellington region for a lunchtime recital at the School of Music’s Adam Concert Room, Victoria University. He brought with him a programme he’s taken to a number of venues around the country, one whose content suggested that there would be no compromises on an artistic level, despite the degree of informality and relaxation often associated with a “lunchtime concert”. This was a programme deserving of serious, five-star attention from start to finish, and received playing that fully realised the “serious” intent of the pianist’s enterprising choice of repertoire.

Bae has already made his mark in the world of piano-playing with many prize-giving performances and awards in various places around the world – according to his web-site, his recent activities include performing recitals in Helsinki, Finland and in Seoul, Korea, as well as currently in New Zealand.  The young pianist is also turning his attention to orchestral conducting, making his New Zealand conducting debut with the Westlake Symphony Orchestra in Auckland. He’s obviously one of those multi-talented musicians who has the aptitude to succeed at whatever he turns his hand to.

Judging from the programme we heard Bae perform at the Music School on Friday, there’s no ‘resting on his laurels”, no trotting out well-consolidated warhorses with which to impress audiences. These pieces required his listeners to come some of the way themselves towards the music, itself extremely varied in content and character, rather than simply let it all “wash over” the sensibilities in a generalised way. Perhaps the best-known of these works, albeit in a roundabout fashion, was that of Debussy’s “Images oubliées” (an earlier work than each of the two, better-known sets of “Images”, but one which, for some reason, wasn’t published in the composer’s lifetime). Recently,  though, there has been some recorded attention given both to Medtner’s solo piano works and to Grieg’s hitherto neglected output outside the “Lyric Pieces”. Certainly the remainder of Bae’s programme indicated there were treasures aplenty awaiting more widespread awareness and approval.

The opening of the Debussy work (Lent) brought forth exquisitely-voiced tones from the young pianist, the sounds resembling some kind of ethereal recitative, accompanied by the softest, most velvety of arpeggiations. This accorded with the composer’s own description of the pieces as “not for brilliantly-lit salons…..but rather, conversations between the piano and oneself”. Bae allowed a beautifully-appointed ebb-and-flow of colours and contours, a kind of nature-benediction in sound, allowing the tones at the end to breathtakingly mingle with the silences.

The second piece “Souvenir du Louvre” bore a close relationship with a movement from the composer’s later “Pour le piano”, a rather more fulsome version of what became the Sarabande from the latter work. Again, the pianist’s evocations were meticulously directed towards detailings of wondrous delicacy, with dialogues throughout sounded between the piano’s different registers, sculpted strength set against liquid movement. Debussy’s original was actually written for Yvonne Lerolle, the girl both Degas and Renoir painted at the piano, and for whom the composer described the piece with the words “slow and solemn, even a bit like an old portrait” (hence the title).

The title of the third piece betrays its inspiration even more candidly than does the later work it (only) occasionally resembles – “Jardins sous la pluie” from “Estampes” with its well-known folk-song quotations. Here it is somewhat teasingly called by the composer “Quelques aspects de ‘Nous n’irons plus au bois'” (Aspects of the song “We will not go to the woods”), with the added afterthought, for the benefit of his young dedicatee, “…because the weather is dreadful”…….Bae’s fleet-fingered playing evoked a game of chase through the woods, by turns lightly-brushed and hard-hitting, with some tolling bells sounding towards the end, the piece then disappearing literally into thin air.

By way of introducing the next work on the programme, Bae spent some time talking with us about his relationship with a composer who’s better known as a conductor, Esa-Pekka Salonen, after which the pianist performed Salonen’s work for solo piano “Dichotomy”. One of a select few of brilliant contemporary performing musicians who significantly compose, Salonen has a number of important works to his credit, for orchestra, two concerti (piano and violin), and a large-scale work for orchestra and chorus, “Karawane”, which premiered in 2014 in Zurich.

Salonen’s work isn’t exactly “hot off the press”, Dichotomie having received its premiere as far back as 2000, in Los Angeles. The composer wanted a short, encore-type piece as a present for a favourite soloist, Gloria Cheng, but, as he discovered, the material he wrote seemed to take on a life of its own,  and expand to proportions bearing little relation to its actual conception. Jason Bae explained to us, along with his account of a serendipitous encounter with Salonen that led to his espousal of the composer’s work, how the music came to be, its two-movement structure representing a relationship between the two “kinds” of music that Salonen seemed to create almost involuntarily. Thus the first movement of this work, Mechanisme, represented machine-like processes, while the second, Organisme, had a more naturalistic way of developing and extending created material. Salonen wanted to explore how these very different styles might, by dint of juxtaposition, “borrow” qualities from one another which could affect their development.

I confess to being fascinated by what I heard, which is a way of paying tribute to Jason Bae’s playing of it as well. The opening of Mechanisme was indeed motoric and Prokofiev-like, the rhythms growing and developing in dynamically varied ways, with different sequences taking on different and unpredictable characters, variously syncopated, symmetrical or angular. Bae’s playing built to almost frighteningly orchestral levels of volume and intensity, before abruptly adopting flowing, legato phrasing that suggested some kind of counter-impulse had been mysteriously, even covertly activated within the work’s being. It preluded a mercurial section where one sensed the creative process was in a kind of ferment of crisis (the machine, perhaps, trying to be human?), with the musical argument appearing to fragment under scrutiny, almost to the point of stasis. A final counter-burst of incendiary energy, notes swirling and figurations exploding in every direction, left the music almost insensible, with only a few legato-phrased, wider-spaced chords holding the centre, and pronouncing the “new order”.

The following Organisme brought forth shimmering, exploratory textures containing reiterating figurations attempting to secure their tentative foot-and finger-holds in the music’s fabric. I thought it Debussy-like in places in a textured sense, the basic materials gradually coalescing and producing a kind of ambient glow, with beautifully voiced fragments of melody floating by on wings of air. The trajectories were passed from hand to hand, thereby suggesting a kind of osmotic continuity of flow, one which inevitably built up tensions of a kind that saw the tones take on increasingly rhythmic and thrustful expression, becoming tumultuous in the sense of a storm, the pianist sending great arabesques of tone shooting upwards and into the ether. Having resisted the temptation to inhabit “the dark side” the music made a flourish of quiet triumph, and the piece ended enigmatically – all told, an enthralling listening experience, thanks in part to Bae’s brilliant advocacy.

Further explorations were furnished by the pianist with his programming of Edvard Grieg’s rarely-heard Ballade Op.24, in my view one of the composer’s greatest works. It was one of the pieces that the tragically short-lived New Zealand pianist Richard Farrell recorded (as part of an all-Grieg recital disc), but has yet to claim a regular place in the concert repertoire. Though part of this is due to the piece’s technical difficulty, my feeling is that Grieg is still regarded by many people as a “miniaturist”, able to turn out  pretty Scandivavian picture-postcards in the form of his numerous “Lyric Pieces”, but lacking the ability to handle larger forms (despite his magnificent Piano Concerto!). Debussy’s well-known swipe at Grieg (“a pink bonbon filled with snow” was his description of one of the latter’s “Elegiec Melodies”) hasn’t helped the latter’s cause – but less well-known is the remark made by Frederick Delius to Maurice Ravel, that “modern French music is simply Grieg, plus the third act of Tristan”, to which Ravel replied, “That is true – we are always unjust to Grieg.”

Justice was certainly done to Grieg by Jason Bae, here a rather more turbo-charged reading in places than that of Richard Farrell’s poetic soundscapings, one underlining the music’s virtuoso aspect, while giving the more ruminative passages enough space in which to breathe Grieg’s bracing air. The work is basically a theme-and-variations treatment of a Norwegian folk-song melody,  “Den Nordlanske Bondestand” (The Northland Peasantry), and ranges from extremely simple elaborations of the theme to full-scale, almost orchestral outbursts of expression, including some forward-looking, even daring excursions into harmonic conflict, particularly during the work’s final cataclysmic section, before the music suddenly dissolves all such conflicts and returns to the melancholy of the original theme. In general, I thought Bae most successfully brought out the music’s brilliance and sharply-etched contrasts, underlining in places the music’s debt towards and kinship with that of Liszt (Variations 11 and 12 are here particularly overwhelming in an orchestral sense!) but also paying ample tribute to Grieg’s own originality. The pianist’s playing of No.9 allowed the composer’s singular gift for melodic piquancy its full effect, while No.10 here vividly captured the music’s characteristic rustic charm and feeling for grass-roots expressions of energy. In the wake of this performance I’m sure Bae would have garnered in many listeners’ minds fresh respect for Grieg as a composer.

The recital concluded with a work from a figure whose music has only recently received the kind of mainstream espousal needed for it to flourish. Russian-born Nikolai Medtner (1880-1951), a younger contemporary of Rachmaninov and Scriabin, received much the same acclaim as a result of his musical studies in Moscow, but then elected to devote himself entirely to composition rather than pursue a career as a pianist. However (and perhaps not surprisingly) the piano figured in practically all of his major compositions, both prior to and after leaving Russia in 1921. Altogether, Medtner completed fourteen piano sonatas, Jason Bae performing for us the eleventh (which the composer subtitled Sonata Tragica, possibly as a reaction to the aftermath of the Russian Revolution) The sonata, incidentally, was one of a set of pieces separately entitled “Forgotten Melodies” (Second Cycle) by the composer. Those who have a taste for idiosyncratic numbering methods of musical compositions will find much to enjoy in Medtner’s own various enumerations of these works.

None of which is relevant to Jason Bae’s performance of the music, which seemed to me to front up squarely to the piece’s overall character, with its big-boned, declamatory  aspect at the beginning and the war-like march that follows proclaiming a Slavic temperament, with the swirling textures obviously breathing the same air as did Rachmaninov’s music. Bae gave the flowing lyricism which followed plenty of “soul”, allowing the deeper textures to make their mark amid the frequent exchanges between the hands, then gradually building the excitement to almost fever pitch, before strongly arresting the flow of the music with a portentous left-hand, almost fugue-like version of the opening declamation – all very exciting! The pianist’s beautifully wrought filigree finger-work introduced further agitations, the music building inexorably towards a kind of breaking-point (Bae’s left hand performing miracles of transcendent articulation) at the apex of which the sonata’s main theme thundered out at us most resplendently and defiantly! It was music that, in this player’s expert hands, punched well above its own weight, with a bigness of utterance which belied its brief duration!

Very great acclaim greeted the young pianist, at the conclusion of this challenging, and in the event splendidly-achieved presentation of some monumental music.

[NEWS] Self-playing piano brings top pianists to NZ - for a price - NZ Herald

Jason Bae with a Steinway Spirio Piano which uses an iPad app to play like no piano you've ever heard - or seen - before. Photo / Doug Sherring

Jason Bae with a Steinway Spirio Piano which uses an iPad app to play like no piano you've ever heard - or seen - before. Photo / Doug Sherring

By: Dionne Christian
Arts & Books Editor, NZ Herald


At first glance, it looks like an ordinary Steinway piano — if you can use the word ordinary to describe a hand-crafted instrument, with some 12,000 individual parts, produced by a company with 160 years of heritage behind it.

Oh, and a starting price tag of $225,000.

But the Steinway Spirio has a surprising — possibly spooky — feature which could shock those who have previously seen pianos where the keys move by themselves and the music booms only at the movies.

It's the world's first self-playing piano and now it's launching in New Zealand. The Spirio
comes loaded with pre-recorded performances, played by some of the world's finest musicians.

Keys move with the music and the sound is so rich it's impossible to differentiate the system from the pianist's original playing and is guaranteed to raise the pulse rates and send a shiver down the spine of piano music fans everywhere.

Piano specialist John Eady, from Auckland music store Lewis Eady, says it works by using an iPad app (an iPad is included in the price) which is programmed with classical, jazz and popular music recordings.

Select which track you want — and there are performances from more than 1700 Steinway artists — sit back and enjoy. Eady says the blending of art and technology is the most significant development in 70 years and, despite the price tag, there is good interest in the Spirio.

He's already sold three — a smaller model is $225,000; the larger $275,000 — including two to a rich-lister who wishes to remain anonymous. He bought one for his Auckland home and another for a property in Hawke's Bay.

Eady says no matter what audio system you have at home, you'll never be able to get the same sound quality using speakers and acoustics as you get from the piano itself.

"You could spend more on a sound system than one of these pianos and still not get the same quality."

Best of all, when you want to tickle the ivories, it becomes a "regular" Steinway.

"It's actually creating more work for pianists," says Eady, "because some are buying a Spirio, listening to a performance and then deciding to invite the pianist to play for them and their friends."

Multi award-winning New Zealand pianist Jason Bae, based in South Korea, is one of those who have recorded performances for the Spirio system including Rachmaninov's Moment Musicaux No.4 Op.16 at the Steinway Piano Gallery in New York.

Bae admits when he first heard about it, he was sceptical but has become a devotee.

He now describes it as a joy to play, saying no machine-manufactured instrument produces the same sound as one that's handmade.

He's looking forward to the next innovation - a piano where the pianist can record themselves and play it back.

A pianist from a young age, Bae was the youngest concerto soloist when, aged 13, he performed with Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra for the SkyCity Starlight Symphony Concert in the Park; at 20, he became the first NZ Young Steinway Artist and a fully-fledged Steinway Artist in 2016.

He's returned home to play — and not play — at the Steinway Spirio launch in Auckland before a New Zealand tour which will take him to Wellington, Christchurch, Cromwell and The Hills in Queenstown.

No, the Spirio isn't going with him but he'll perform on other Steinway pianos before returning to Auckland later this month for a performance at Lewis Eady Music.

[INTERVIEW] Brilliant young pianist Jason Bae returns - Radio New Zealand Concert

From Upbeat, 1:40 pm on 20 March 2018

New Zealand’s only Steinway artist Jason Bae returns from his studies at the Royal Academy to give a recital tour of the country. Jason was the youngest ever concerto soloist with the Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra at the Starlight Symphony in the Park. The brilliant young pianist has finished his Master of Music at London's Royal Academy and is noted as one to watch.