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Jung-Eun Kim, Piano
March 21, 2023
Jung-Eun Kim, Piano

Johann Sebastian Bach, arr. Egon Petri: Sheep May Safely Graze

Frédéric Chopin: Barcarolle in F-sharp Major, Op. 60

Robert Schumann: Sonata No. 1 in F-sharp Minor, Op. 11

Program Notes

J. S. Bach arranged by E. Petri, Sheep May Safely Graze

“Sheep may safely graze” (German: Schafe können sicher weiden) is a soprano aria by Johann Sebastian Bach to words by Salomon Franck. The piece was written in 1713 and is part of the cantata Was mir behagt, ist nur die muntre Jagd, BWV 208 (Only the lively hunt pleases me), also known as the Hunting Cantata. The cantata BWV 208 was originally written for a birthday celebration of Christian, Duke of Saxe-Weissenfels. Bach was based at the nearby court of Weimar, and musicians from both courts appear to have joined in the first performance in Weißenfels. Bach is known to have used the music again for other celebrations, but it remained unpublished until after his death. This piano transcription was made by Dutch pianist Egon Petri and published in 1944.

F. Chopin, Barcarolle Op. 60

“I should like now to finish my violoncello sonata, barcarolle and something else I don’t know how to name,” wrote Chopin in a letter of December 1845. Working through debilitating illness and the grinding conclusion of his unhappy relationship with the writer George Sand, Chopin published in the following summer his Barcarolle, Op. 60 and the “something else” known eventually as the Polonaise-FantaIsie, Op. 61—consecutive towering masterpieces of his final years.

Drawn from two Italian words, barca or boat, and rollo or rower, the barcarolle was a beloved 19th-century cliché: the gently rocking romantic songs of Venetian gondoliers. Working with a broad 12/8 time signature, Chopin’s watery undulations begin calmly, but upon their return in the final third of the piece, build like the immense swells of the open ocean—no moonlit canal scene here, but a relentless and dramatic escalation.

R. Schumann, Sonata No. 1 Op. 11

The Sonata in F sharp minor Op. 11 was described by the composer to his beloved Clara Wieck as ‘a cry from my heart to yours’. From the arresting opening to the bouncing Allegro vivace of the first movement and through to the majestic, orchestral-sounding finale, Clara’s imprints are everywhere in the work.

The opening of Schumann’s Op. 11 Sonata is clearly labeled as an ‘Introduzione’, though their fully formed melodic character lends them the aspect of a self-contained entity. At the end of the introduction, Schumann carries out one of his characteristic experiments in piano sonority, the falling fifth emerging pianissimo out of a blurred swirl of sound. The Allegro is dominated by what Schumann called his ‘fandango’ idea, a lively partner dance originating in Portugal and Spain. Schumann describes the slow movement as an ‘Aria’, and it is in fact based on a song he had written as an eighteen-year-old student. (The song, An Anna, to a poem by Justinus Kerner, was not published until Brahms included it in the supplement to the collected edition of Schumann’s works, issued in 1893.) When Liszt reviewed the sonata for the Paris Gazette musicale, he singled out the slow movement for special praise, describing it as ‘a song of great passion, expressed with fullness and calm’. Behind the framework of the third movement lies the notion of a through-composed scherzo with two trios. The tempo quickens for the first trio whose opening bars are underpinned by the first movement’s ‘rocking’ fifths motif, played pianissimo leggierissimo. The second trio is an absurdly heavy-handed polonaise, and Schumann marks it, Alla burla, ma pomposo. There are more orchestral sonorities in the finale: tremolos deep in the bass register while above them the texture gradually increases in weight, like a crescendo over a drum roll and a staccato passage near the close, marked quasi pizzicato. This finale of the grand sonata concludes with the triumphant F sharp major.

Jung-Eun Kim is quickly becoming a sought-after pianist both as a soloist, chamber musician, and collaborative artist. An Osher Foundation Scholar, Jung-Eun is currently completing an Artist Diploma in Piano Performance at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where she also received double Master’s degrees in solo piano and chamber music with Yoshikazu Nagai and Jon Nakamatsu. She frequently concertizes in both the Bay Area and beyond. A native of South Korea, she made her solo debut with the Changwon Philharmonic Orchestra at age 11. Since then, she has won several prizes both in the United States and South Korea including the Wideman International Piano Competition and Beethoven Piano Competition in Seoul.

Jung-Eun has also been featured on numerous national radio engagements including From the Top, Hawaii Public Radio, and WUSF National Public Radio. As part of the Winners’ Concert at the Chautauqua Music Festival, she performed a solo recital of works from Bach to Rachmaninoff. In the Fall of 2019, she made her San Francisco debut as a winner of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music Concerto Competition, performing Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini with conductor Edwin Outwater.

Equally captivating as a chamber musician, Jung-Eun and her San Francisco-based L’arc Trio received an InterMusic SF grant, which allowed them to commission a brand-new work titled “Ominous Machine” by Berkeley-based composer Vivian Fung. She and her piano trio, winner of the Barbara Fritz Chamber Award, pursue projects that combine new works and classic pillars of the piano trio repertoire into creative, modern programs. During her studies in the Chamber Music Program at SFCM, Jung-Eun performed alongside artists such as Tessa Lark, Norman Fischer, Ian Swensen, Jean-Michel Fonteneau, and David McCarroll.

In her free time, Jung-Eun enjoys traveling, exploring new cuisines, and reading music with friends.