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Seong-Jin Cho had guns a blazin at UCPresents debut / Chicago Classical Review

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Gold Medal winner of the 2015 Chopin CompetitionSeong-Jin Cho immediately became a classical rock star in his native South Korea. His rapid ascent was aided by a high-powered Deutsche Grammophon contract and a swelling of national pride in his being the first Korean winner of the venerable Chopin Competition. Clearly, the slender 24-year-old pianist's youthful good looks don't hurt either.

One got a strong sense of Cho's remarkable popularity with Friday's turnout in Hyde Park, as the usually low-key University of Chicago Presents venue took on the trappings of a Hollywood red carpet. The regular UC audience was swelled by Cho fans-predominantly Asian, young and female-who were buzzing excitedly in the lobby before the concert. Afterwards, Cho graciously stayed for over an hour to take photos with his admirers and sign CDs of his recordings. The queueing multitude stretched the length of the long lobby, from Mandel Hall out the doors to 57th street.

So, what about the playing? 

Cho clearly possesses a world-class technique, polished to a high sheen. His arsenal is complete and unassailable, the pianist vaulting through some of the most technically demanding repertoire with guns blazing and nary a slip. Friday's concert offered about as thrilling a display of sheer powerhouse keyboard bravura as one is ever likely to encounter.

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