Works for Solo Piano

Joseph Haydn, Leon Kirchner, Franz Liszt, Robert Schumann




“An outstanding recital then by an exceptionally gifted pianist and accomplished artist, one that can be easily and enthusiastically recommended.”
Jerry Dubins, Fanfare – November/December 2012
“An incomparable technique and musicianship is shown here in the music of Haydn, Schumann, Liszt and the American composer of Russian extraction, Leon Kirchner… [In the Haydn] she has clear-headed insight into the master's brilliant bravura writing, matched by eloquence in the central movement…  Liszt's Petrarch Sonnet 104 from his Years of Pilgrimage and Concert Paraphrase of Verdi's Rigoletto both evoke richness of tone and a dashing bravura… The most interesting and rewarding of her recordings is the Sonata No 1 by Leon Kirchner... This is a work of tensile strength that throws caution to the winds in passages of tightly knit daring couched in an original spate of risk and vehemence. This is a tremendous piece played with great daring and mastery… On [this] score alone, this CD is worth its weight in gold.”
Bill Newman, Music & Vision – August 2012
"Young-Ah Tak’s many international performances have won much acclaim... There is certainly finesse in her sparkling reading of the Haydn, where her thoughtful use of pedaling reflects Haydn’s exploration of this innovation in the piano’s evolution, evident in an “open pedal” instruction in the score... The Schumann Carnival, certainly a cornerstone of any pianist’s repertoire as well as a foundation for Schumann’s later piano writing, is given a technically brilliant, often poetic, and in some places furious treatment. Tak offers a youthfully exuberant reading of this youthful music with its multiple personalities ranging from Pierrot and Arlequin to Paganini. The remainder of the program serves to demonstrate Tak’s considerable technical prowess in the service of thoughtful musicality. Her Liszt Petrarch Sonnet captures the essential lyricism and poetic structure of the piece, and the Rigoletto paraphrase is marked by much finesse in the vibrant, cascading passage work that embellishes the famous Act III quartet. Leon Kirchner’s dark and dissonant 1948 Piano Sonata is a courageous addition to an otherwise fairly conventional program, and this was my first exposure to his music. I note a kinship here with the piano sonatas of Samuel Feinberg (1890-1962), that I find more convincing than the more common comparisons to Bartok. While the sonata serves to display Tak’s technical ability to master a dense and difficult score, it may not appeal to many listeners. I find that its challenges yield to repeated listening, and Tak’s thoughtful attention to tone color and structure eventually reveal both an underpinning of lyricism and a monumental sense of organic form in this work."
J.D. Moore, American Record Guide – September/October 2012

“[Tak is] a polished and serious-minded pianist… pointed and well-characterised [Haydn]…her fleet fingerwork impresses [in Carnaval]… “

Jed Distler, Gramophone – July 2012
“Tak is fleet-footed (or fingered) and ever-sensitive to Schumann’s poetry… Tak boldly tackles the music of three centuries and shows equal affinity for all. She takes one of Haydn’s grandest, most taxing sonatas…and turns in a performance that’s stylish, alive with nuance and flair. Tak is as comfortable with Liszt’s effusive, heart-on-sleeve brand of Romanticism. This music is thrice familiar and available in dozens of recorded renditions, but Tak is not outclassed here. She captures all the stagey swagger of Liszt’s Verdi tribute, the inwardness and longing of the Sonetto 104 del Petrarca. Here, she compares entirely favorably with my benchmark recording by Louis Lortie (on Chandos). Perhaps the most useful inclusion is the bracingly acerbic Sonata by Tak’s teacher Leon Kirchner. This piece is certainly not new to recordings; there’s a classic version by Leon Fleisher that’s undoubtedly a barn-burner. But then so, pretty much, is Tak’s version. She sets out on a mission wherein she’s resolved to take no prisoners, and her steely virtuosity stands her in good stead throughout the tough pages of Kirchner’s Sonata. The disc would be just about worth acquiring on the strength of this performance, but then the Liszt and Haydn interpretations help to make this an appealingly varied program to boot. MSR’s sonics are bright and very immediate; this is mostly a very good piano recording. This is a fine showcase for Young-Ah Tak’s considerable talents, and I recommend it to one and all.   *  *  *  (*)    ”
Lee Passarella, Audiophile Audition – July 2012
"A lithe, quick, flexible touch on the keyboard, plus an unerring feeling for the rhythmic values inherent in the works she plays are combined in pianist Young-Ah Tak to make a technically challenging program seem deceptively easy. The Korea-born, U.S.-trained pianist essays an extremely varied program consisting of Haydn’s delightful Piano Sonata No. 60 in C major, Schumann’s wide-ranging and often deeply romantic Carnaval, Liszt’s superb paraphrase of themes from Verdi’s Rigoletto and the first really convincing account I have yet heard of his Sonetto 104 del Petrarca, plus a consummately fine performance of the sometimes disturbing Piano Sonata No. 1 by the late American composer Leon Kirchner (1919-2009).
The Haydn makes for a truly delicious curtain-raiser, what with its scintillatingly alert rhythms and smartly accomplished repeated notes in its opening movement and the nice sense of flow Ms. Tak imparts to the music. She brings off the lyricism of the Adagio with all the quasi-improvisatory spontaneity it deserves. And she keeps a steady feeling of irresistibly onward movement in the finale when encompassing three of the most egregious “wrong note” passages in the literature (deliberate examples of Haydn’s humor, we should add), the last of which gives the hilarious impression that the performer must be falling off the end of the bench!

Carnaval, perhaps Robert Schumann’s best loved major work as well as his most personal, provides Tak lots of opportunities for well-defined characterizations in its panoply of characters and situations inspired by personae from the commedia dell’arte and Schumann’s own life and loves. Perhaps the most telling of these “miniature scenes in quarter-notes” are “Chiarina,” Schumann’s portrait of his future bride Clara that captures her decided artistic temperament; “Chopin,” which pays its dedicatee the ultimate compliment of being cast in the style of a Nocturne; and “Aveu,” a deeply felt lover’s vow. Tak displays great flexibility in the way she adjusts to the changes in hand position, texture, rhythm, and color that occur continually throughout the 21 brief sections of this work.

Tak scores some of her best points in the Liszt part of the program, starting with the only satisfying account I have heard of Petrarch Sonnet 104, as she deftly follows the sense of a poem which describes all the deliciously unsettling sensations of being in love (“I fear, I hope and burn and freeze: / I fly above the sky and collapse to the earth.”) She sheds equal insight on the paraphrase of Verdi’s Rigoletto, which takes as its point of departure not the showy aria “La Donna è mobile,” but the vocal quartet “Bella fliglia dell’amore” which immediately follows it, cutting to the very heart of the opera.

The Kirchner sonata requires the utmost of the performer in its dissonances, driving rhythms, and a personal style of expression that recalls Bela Bartok to many observers, though Scriabin seems to me a likelier influence. Tak manages superbly the work’s brooding declamations and its passionate fast sections in which the composer seems to spray scattered notes at the listener like gun bursts. Though I admit I have yet to acquire a taste for Kirchner’s music, I feel that he could wish for no fairer or better balanced interpretation than Tak gives us here."
Phil Muse, Audio Society of Atlanta - February 2012


Pianist Young-Ah Tak has performed throughout the United States, Canada, Austria, Germany, Italy,
Korea, and Japan. Since making her New York debut Alice Tully Hall with the Juilliard Symphony, Ms.
Tak has appeared at the Kennedy Center, Jordan Hall, the Ravinia Festival, Music@Menlo, the Wharton Center in Michigan, the Banff Centre for the Arts, and at major concert halls in her native Korea.

Ms. Tak has been a soloist with numerous orchestras including the Filharmonia Pomorska in Poland, Korean Symphony Orchestra, Lansing Symphony Orchestra, Oltenia Philharmonic Orchestra in Romania, North Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, Imperial Symphony Orchestra, and Ulsan and Busan Philharmonic Orchestras in Korea. Her solo recital appearances have been presented at the Myra Hess Recital Series in Chicago, Trinity Wall Street Concert Series, Fayetteville Arts Festival, Columbia University, and Tongyeong and Busan International Music Festivals in Korea. An active chamber musician, Ms. Tak has collaborated with such artists as Robert Mann, Bonnie Hampton, the Ma’alot Quintet, and members of the Florestan Trio. In addition, her performances have been broadcast on major radio stations throughout the United States.

An advocate of contemporary music, Young-Ah Tak has performed at Sequenza 21 and at the Piano Century concert series in New York, and her debut recording of Judith Zaimont’s Wizards was released by Albany Records to critical acclaim. Ms. Tak has taken top prizes in numerous competitions, including the Hilton Head International Piano Competition, San Antonio International Piano Competition (where she also received the “Best Performance of a Classical Work” award), Isang Yun International Music Competition in Korea, Valsesia-Musica International Piano Competition in Italy, Ettlingen International Piano Competition in Germany, International Fulbright Concerto Competition (where she was also awarded the Audience Prize), Missouri Southern International Piano Competition, and Heida Hermanns International Piano Competition.

Young-Ah Tak has served on the piano faculty at Southeastern University in Florida, at the Preparatory Division of the Peabody Institute, and with the Yellow Barn Chamber Music Festival’s Young Artists Program. Ms. Tak has received her training at The Juilliard School, New England Conservatory, and Peabody Institute under teachers that have included Leon Fleisher, Yong Hi Moon, Russell Sherman, Wha Kyung Byun, and Martin Canin.


JOSEPH HAYDN (1732-1809)
I. Allegro
II. Adagio
III. Allegro molto

CARNAVAL, OP. 9 - Scènes Mignonnes sur Quatre Notes
Valse noble
Réplique (– Sphinxes)
A.S.C.H. – S.C.H.A. (Lettres dansantes)
Pantalon et Colombine
Valse Allemande
Marche des “Davidsbündler” contre les Philistins

FRANZ LISZT (1811-1886)
SONETTO 104 DEL PETRARCA from Années de Pèlerinage, Italie

LEON KIRCHNER (1919-2009)
I. Lento - Tempo II
II. Adagio
III. Allegro risoluto

MSR Classics