Sunwook Kim came to international recognition when he won the prestigious Leeds International Piano Competition in 2006, aged just 18, becoming the competition’s youngest winner for 40 years, as well as its first Asian winner.
His performance of Brahms’s Concerto No.1 with the Hallé Orchestra and Sir Mark Elder in the competition’s finals attracted unanimous praise from the press. Since then, he has established a reputation as one of the finest pianists of his generation, appearing as a concerto soloist in the subscription series of some of the world’s leading orchestras, including the London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. Berlin Radio Symphony, NDR Sinfonieorchester Hamburg, Finnish Radio Symphony, Philharmonia Orchestra, London Philharmonic, Radio-France Philharmonic, NHK Symphony, Hallé Orchestra, and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra for his BBC Proms debut in Summer 2014.
Born in Seoul in 1988, he graduated from the Korean National University of Arts in February 2008, and then completed an MA in conducting at the Royal Academy of Music. Besides Leeds, international awards include the first prize at the 2004 Ettlingen Competition (Germany) and the 2005 Clara Haskil Competition (Switzerland). In 2013, Sunwook was selected by the Beethoven-Haus Bonn to become the first beneficiary of its new Mentoring.
In 14/15 he completed a highly acclaimed residency with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and returns there this season for a performance of Tchaikovsky 1st Concerto. At the start of last season they gave a 6-concert tour together with Rachmaninov Concerto No.3 and recorded Brahms Piano Concertos No.1 & 2 for release next year on the Hallé’s own label. Other concerto highlights included a performance of Unsuk Chin’s Piano Concerto with the Radio-France Philharmonic at the prestigious Festival d’Automne in Paris, and debut projects with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Hamburger Symphoniker, Opera di Roma and Hong Kong Sinfonietta.
Recital highlights to date include regular appearances in the ‘Piano 4 Etoiles’ series at Salle Pleyel in Paris, as well as recitals at the Jerusalem International Chamber Music Festival, Piano aux Jacobin Festival, Wigmore Hall, the London International Piano Series (Queen Elizabeth Hall), Stockholm Konserthuset, Teatro Colon Buenos Aires, La Roque d’Antheron International Piano Festival in France, Kioi Hall in Tokyo, Symphony Hall Osaka, Brussels Klara Festival, Beethoven-Haus Bonn, Klavier-Festival Ruhr, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festspiele as well as in 12/13, he presented a complete cycle of the Beethoven Sonatas at the LG Arts Centre in Seoul. Last season Sunwook made his debut with the RTSI Orchestra in Lugano, the Gurzenich-Orchester Kölner Philharmoniker and the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse for a performance of Beethoven Triple Concerto.
“Kim has an unerring sense of underlying harmonic tension and tonal design, plus the skill to apply colour and blend accordingly, which gives his playing both eloquence and architectural solidity and saves him from having to rely on gimmicky exaggeration to make his mark.Gramophone
In 17/18, recital highlights will include performances at the Wigmore Hall, Leeds Piano Festival, as well as concerto appearances with the Halle, Philharmonia, BBC Concert, Bournemouth, Dresden Philharmonic, Royal Scottish National and Seoul Philharmonic Orchestras. Other highlights include duo recitals with Jian Wang in Korea and Guy Braunstein in Berlin as well as a tour of the United States with the Staatskapelle Weimar with Kirill Karabits.
Sunwook Kim’s debut recital disc was released on the Accentus label in October 2015, featuring Beethoven’s Waldstein and Hammerklavier sonatas. This was followed by a recording of Franck’s Prelude, choral et fugue paired with Brahms Sonata No.3 and a further disc of Beethoven; Sonata No. 8; Pathetique, Sonata No. 14; Moonlight and Sonata No. 23; Appassionata. His discography also includes two concerto recordings, both on Deutsche Grammophon and with the Seoul Philharmonic conducted by Myung-Whun Chung: a CD featuring Unsuk Chin’s Piano Concerto (2014) which attracted outstanding reviews and awards from BBC Music Magazine and International Classical Music Awards, and a CD featuring Beethoven Concerto No.5 (2013).
The swell of suspended harmonies was perfectly controlled, the chords perfectly struck and voiced, and Kim always kept the sense of restless searching at just the right level of intensityDUNDEE COURIER