PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, Sept. 19, 2013
by David Patrick Stearns
In Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No. 1, the increasingly celebrated HJ Lim left no doubt that she’s one of the bigger personalities of her generation, playing Yamaha’s latest model in ways that made the instrument seem simultaneously bright and imposing.
SOUTH WALES ARGUS, Feb. 15, 2013
by Geraint Davies
This was a powerful reading with fast tempi, full of ultra-Romantic impulsiveness and making light of the many virtuosic demands on the pianist. Having already recorded the full cycle of Beethoven piano sonatas (the youngest performer ever to do this) she is clearly a star in the making.
THE STRANGER, Jan. 11, 2013
by Trent Moorman
“HJ LIM, NIGHT PANTHERE, BENAROYA HALL”
“Enter pianist HJ Lim, or as I call her, the French-Korean Night Panther. She strode in confidently with long black hair, wearing a long black silk genius-robe. She sat down, flung the silk tails behind the seat, tossed her hand rag into the open well of the grand piano, and unleashed a two-handed hyper-dexterous volley on the keys. Her playing was a high-speed embroidery that deciphered the Mendelssohn into the furtherness of now and beyond. She’s a combination of accuracy, ferocity, and touch. Flurries of runs ran into moments of melodic stasis, where notes floated. There were sections combined with the symphony, sections where they rallied back and forth, and sections where she soloed, wafting long, slow, single notes that encased feathers into the ice of a frozen lake. Then the lake in an instant was a monsoon of sprinting scales, and the Night Panther was exploding waves into equations.”
If I was going to have brain surgery, I would want HJ Lim to be my surgeon. The operation would be mistake-free, and it would be done in eight seconds. She’d be like, “Next.” I really wanted her to play the monstrosity of a pipe organ, mounted on the wall behind the stage, taunting. (The C. B. Fisk, Opus 114, with 62 voices, 83 ranks, 4,490 pipes.) The things HJ Lim would have done with that thing. The Night Panther would absolutely have phantomed the ever living hell out of that opera. The Night Panther probably doesn’t take requests though.”
ROYAL LIVERPOOL PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA, PHILHARMONIC HALL, REVIEW, BACHTRACK; Dec. 6, 2012
…HJ Lim played with a wonderful balance of subtlety and extroversion. Her accompanying of the woodwind in the second movement, for example, showed a humble flexibility, and her softly elegant phrasing seemed to inspire similar beauty in woodwind solos.
She set a furiously brisk tempo for the third movement and she maintained a sense of frenetic energy. In the fugal passage this was matched with very well coordinated string playing. When the famous theme made its final appearance after a cadenza flourish from Lim, it was stately, sitting a notch behind impassioned emotion. The coda, at lightning speed, prompted whole-hearted appreciation from the audience.
SÜDDEUTSCHE ZEITUNG, Nov. 24, 2012
…But superiority soon made itself felt. It looked highly artistic when the soloist, Ms Lim, occasionally used her free hand in a grand gesture to pluck sounds out of the air. But this is more than just showmanship.
She plays with the greatest virtuosity, with a beautifully graduated palette of keyboard colours. She drew an expressive cantabile from the piano at the beginning of the slow movement. When the orchestra joined in, you felt surrounded by a velvety warmth – until the players plunged into the Presto with the requisite bustle. Even faster was Ms Lim’s encore – her own arrangement of a Korean folk song.
CONCERT CLASSIC, Oct. 2012
by Alain Cochard
Value does not wait, HJ Lim has not yet reached the quarter century that she has already accomplished the complete Beethoven sonatas in recording. (EMI) “You know, Beethoven’s music cannot be played, it has to be reinvented,” Anton Rubinstein once said to Alfred Cortot, student of Louis Diemer at the Paris Conservatoire. It seems that the young Korean has also meditated on this wise advice because we can only be grasped – and what concerns us, excited – by the freedom and the sincereness of her interpretation strongly signed.
HJ Lim goes beyond the horizon of the bars in order to put highlight on – and if necessary conflict – the blocks that shape and structure the Beethovenian discourse. Since Earl Wild in his recording in 1994, we haven’t heard a version that is so full of freedom and jubilation of the sonata Hammerklavier.
TELEGRAPH UK, April 2012
It forces you to listen to this music as if for the very first time, rediscovering everything that is great about it. Everything is dangerously invigorating, strikingly original. This is the kind of album that will save the classical recording industry. It’s the kind of album that, if you’ve never heard a Beethoven sonata before will convert you for life and ruin every other performance you’ll hear.
NEW YORK TIMES, May 2012
by Vivien Schweitzer
Digging Deeply Into Beethoven in Head and Heart, an idiosyncratic player with plenty of original ideas and the technique to carry them out, Ms. Lim has devoted considerable time to studying not only the works themselves but also Beethoven biographies and letters and other historical materials. A physically exuberant player, Ms. Lim tossed back her long, untied hair during more tumultuous moments and played with expressive commitment and colorful nuance throughout both sonatas. Ms. Lim’s intellectual analysis and emotional engagement resulted in fresh, vigorous interpretations.
BBC MUSIC REVIEW, Feb. 2012
HJ Lim tackles these pieces with invention as much as she does with respect. Volume two ought to be another triumph.
FONO FORUM MAGAZINE, March 2012
HJ Lim’s interpretation of the Fugue has an electrifying vitality . . . these first recordings show a spirited virtuoso with a high level of structural awareness.
TRIBUNE DE GENÈVE, May 2012
by Luca Sabbatini
Her powerful playing, without taboos, ultra-romantic, imaginative and visionary remind of the finest pianists of the past. A compliment, in the widespread conformism in which delights the new generation of performers. If she shines by her intelligence, HJ Lim also plays the piano like a demiurge. She faces each sonata, the most modest to the most monumental, with an energy, a fire, a sense of transcendence, a organic flexibility that leaves speechless – especially in the pages heard a thousand of times. Same revelation while listening to the famous Moonlight, when the first movement was so languid and often depleted by pianists without scale, we seems to rediscover this movement with fluid tempo, the infinite shades of HJ Lim. In short, the level of inspiration remains stratospheric throughout this first volume. An immense Beethoven interpreter is born.
INTERNATIONAL RECORD REVIEW, April 2012
It’s easy to see why she rapidly became so highly acclaimed, for she has a powerful, charismatic and captivating presence on stage and her technique is quite prodigious.
THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, May 2012
Has there ever been a more audacious recording debut than that of South Korean-born, French-trained pianist HJ Lim. In the infamous Piano Sonata No. 29 ‘Hammerklavier’, she projects a strong viewpoint and such clarity that you’re astounded anew at what strange, forward looking music it is.
CORRIERE DELLA SERA, Jan. 2010
by Daniela Zacconi
She manages to marry her acrobatic technique with strong personality that gives life in her very creative interpretations.
BASELLANDSCHAFTLICHER ZEITUNG, Nov. 2009
The works she chose were amongst the most difficult imaginable. This exceptionally gifted artist ignited an incomparably fiery pianistic space with Rachmaninov’s Etudes-Tableaux Op. 33 and Op. 39. This was followed by Chopin’s Etudes, no less demanding, an incredible enchantment of possibilities of pianistic expressions, subtle and grandiose, magically performed by the phenomenal virtuoso.
STAVANGER AFTENBLAD, Oct. 2011
In the Liszt concerto she appeared, not only as a phenomenal virtuoso, with extreme rapidity, and a clear and powerful touch of force and lash, but also with depth in her interpretation. The extreme ability to hit the right notes in combination with her sound-making, gave us a kind of “goose-skin”.
CLASSIC NEWS, Oct. 2010
Hyun-Jung Lim belongs to one of those rare artists who, far from simply executing a piece with their brilliant technique, do indeed re-create the work. When listening to her version of the sonata cycle – sonatas so famous that their interpretation seems to have become fixed and immutable – the audience in the Armenian Church truly felt like they were hearing something new and unprecedented. Hyun-Jung Lim’s temperament, combined with her seemingly infinite technical ability and her great feel for musical phrase and architecture, allowed her to deliver a coherent yet totally new interpretation of the sonatas. Having seemingly developed her performance based on a deep analysis of the works, the artist is looking to faithfully render Beethoven’s message. Her interpretation explores all the resources of musical expression.