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 Berliner Philharmoniker, London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Staatskapelle Dresden, Chicago Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Minnesota Orchestra, Berlin Radio Symphony, NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Finnish Radio Symphony, Philharmonia Orchestra, London Philharmonic, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, BBC Orchestra of Wales, Radio-France Philharmonic, NHK Symphony, Hallé Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra for his BBC Proms debut in Summer 2014. Conductor collaborations include with Karina Canellakis, Nathalie Stutzmann, Thomas Sondergard, Tugan Sokhiev, Daniel Harding, Paavo Järvi, David Afhkam, Edward Gardner, John Elliot Gardiner, Myung-Whun Chung, Osmo Vänskä, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Kirill Karabits, Marek Janowski, Sakari Oramo, Andrew Manze, Vassily Sinaisky, Michael Sanderling and Sir Mark Elder.
As soloist in the 2022/23 season, Sunwook will return to the Los Angeles Philharmonic (Tianyi Lu), London Symphony Orchestra (Michael Tilson Thomas), Chamber Orchestra of Europe to tour South Korea as well as to the Soul Philharmonic in their tour of Europe (Concertgebouw, Cadogan Hall). Sunwook will also return to Bournemouth Symphony both as soloist (Karabits) and to conduct Dvorak’s Cello Concerto alongside Brahms Symphony No. 2. Sunwook’s return to the Bournemouth Symphony as conductor follows his instant success having made his play-direct debut with the orchestra and international conducting debut with the KBS Symphony only last season. In August 2022, Sunwook also had the honour to conduct the Seoul Philharmonic in their National Liberation Day Concert marking the 77th anniversary of Korea’s National Liberation Day. Further conducting debuts this season include with the Fundación Excelentia Madrid and Macao Orchestra.
Recitals highlights to date include regular appearances in the “Piano 4 Etoiles” series at Salle Pleyel in Paris, as well as at the 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, Seoul Arts Centree, Symphony Hall Osaka, Brussels Klara Festival, Beethoven-Haus Bonn, Klavier-Festival Ruhr and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festspiele.
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. He has released further recordings of Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas, Sonata No. 8; Pathetique, Sonata No. 14; Moonlight and Sonata No. 23; Appassionata as well as sonatas No. 30-32 and his most recent chamber music release features the Violin Sonatas of Beethoven in collaboration with Clara-Jumi Kang. His discography also includes multiple concerto recordings; on Accentus Music with the Staatskapelle Dresden conducted by Myung-Whun Chung featuring Brahms’ Piano Concerto no. 1 and Six Piano Pieces (2020) in addition to recordings on Deutsche Grammophon with the Seoul Philharmonic conducted by Myung-Whun Chung, a CD featuring Unsuk Chin’s Piano Concerto (2014) and a CD featuring Beethoven Concerto No.5 (2013).
This biography should not be edited without permission from Askonas Holt. August 2022
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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