The Corner

Music Video of the Month

Just one more from the September Diary. Somewhere in there I included a reference to Chopin’s “Winter Wind” étude. I thought I should post a link, so I went to YouTube, did a quick search, and came up with a clip of Korean pianist Yeol Eum Son doing a handsome performance of the piece. Here’s the link again.

After I’d posted off the diary I went back to that clip and watched it again. Then I watched it a couple more times. It had got to me somehow. It’s obvious the piece itself is ferociously difficult (a thing confirmed by a pianist friend I asked). Yet here’s this young woman — if the birth date given on her Wikipedia page is correct, which of course is a sizeable “if,” she was 19 or 20 when the clip was recorded — knocking it out with no sheet music. To a non-pianist like me, it just looks impossible.

True, she got lucky with the camera work, which is way better than the average for a classical-music video. Even so, I think it’s a terrific performance, worth a bookmark on my PC anyway.

Note how at the very end she does the gesture called bai in Chinese: hands clasped over each other in front of lowered head. This is an expression of respect to a superior in all the Confucian cultures. To whom is she addressing it? Chopin? Her teacher? Be nice to know.

Jay Nordlinger, who knows everything about music, and then some, and then a lot more, tells me Yeol is not world-famous. Possibly “Winter Wind” can be done much better than she does it — what do I know? But she really got my attention with that clip.

(Jay also tells me he has an anecdote about Artur Rubinstein, Myra Hess, and “Winter Wind.” Wanna share it with the general, Jay?)

John Derbyshire — Mr. Derbyshire is a former contributing editor of National Review.

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