Pianist Jenna Sung, identified by Gramophone as “the talent of tomorrow – today”, has been critically acclaimed, described as creating “magical impressionistic, but also dramatic sound-paintings” by Westdeutsche Zeitung. The Polish Radio praised her “dexterity and flawless performing skills” as well as her “extraordinary temperament”. Working with world-renowned musicians and always performing with her unique style, Jenna commands “a masterful and effortless technique on all levels, yet never treats virtuosity as an end in itself, focusing instead on details of dynamics, tonal shadings, and expression” – Classics Today.
Sung received an invitation to perform at Carnegie Hall and made her orchestra debut at age ten. More recently, Jenna had a successful debut concert in the Berlin Philharmonic and at Wigmore Hall London. She performed at the Chopin recital series “Fryderyk Chopin – Dzieła Wszystkie”, organized with honorary sponsorship from the President of Poland. Jenna was also invited to Germany by the Kawai European Headquarters, Fazioli Hall Italy, Royal Concert Hall, Palau de la Musica Barcelona and Valencia, Royal Albert Hall London, South Bank Centre London, Kings Place London, Conway Hall London, Auditorium di Milano, Harrogate International Festival, recital sponsored by the President of Poland, International Festival Palermo Classica, the Benasque Music Festival in Spain and had the honour of performing a recital for the British Royal Family.
More recently, her solo recital at St John’s Smith Square was broadcast live by BBC Radio 3. Sung is very active in performing contemporary music, an example of which is her commissioning two pieces by renowned British composers, premiered by her at Wigmore Hall.
Jenna Sung was the winner of numerous piano competitions incl. Jaques Samuel Pianos Competition London, Alfred Kitchin Competition, Grand Virtuoso Prize International Competition, RCM Concerto Competition London, Intl Piano Competition Ciudad de Huesca in Spain, Ibiza International Competition in Spain, Stefano Marizza in Italy, Maria Canals in Spain, Carl Filtsch in Romania, Premio Iturbi Valencia and others. Her career led her to many cities in the world –UK, Germany, Poland, Italy, Korea, Holland, Spain and France.
Additionally, Sung performed with orchestras such as Poland Kielce Symphony Orchestra, Bulgaria Sophia State Philharmonic Orchestra, Chang-Won Philharmonic Orchestra, UMFC Orchestra Poland, Korea Soloists Orchestra and Masan Philharmonic Orchestra.
She has studied at many prestigious conservatoires – Hochschule für Musik “Hanns Eisler” Berlin, Royal College of Music London, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, Schola Cantorum Paris, Chopin University of Music in Warsaw, Seoul Arts High School, Yewon Arts School – and has worked with renowned pianists such as Prof. Gabriele Kupfernagel, Prof. George Sava, Prof. Klaus Sticken, Bruce Brubaker, Prof Michel Berroff, Prof Roy Howat, Prof Józef Stompel, Prof Anne Queffelec, Prof Brigitte Engerer, Prof Stefan Litwin, Pascal Rogé, Eugene Indjic, Prof. Andrzej Jasinski, Prof. Martinos Tirimos, Prof.Wojciech Switala, Prof. Deniz Gelenbe and Prof. Leon McCawley.
Pianist Jenna Sung is the latest in this long and distinguished line to perform in Nottingham. Her Sunday morning recital at the RCH was as beautiful to watch as it was to hear, combining technical brilliance with a commitment to the music that was as imaginative as it was passionate.
Her programme started with three sonatas by the 18th century Catalan composer Antonio Soler: unusual repertoire played with a joyous lightness of touch and crisply transparent textures. Then came something altogether more exotic. The Russian Alexander Scriabin held such weirdly mystical beliefs that his music was once banned as being ‘evil’. Jenna chose to perform his Prelude and Nocturne for the Left Hand, coaxing some ravishing sounds from the keyboard and creating such dazzling effects that even seeing her use just one hand still made it hard to believe. Her palette of colours was just as wide and bright in three of Debussy’s Book 1 Preludes, conjuring up vividly evocative musical pictures of sailing boats, of wind blowing across empty plains and of the hills of Anacapri. And as final proof of her ability to create instantly effective musical miniatures, Jenna performed Schumann’s Carnival, a series of twenty superconcentrated musical sketches of characters and ideas. Her imaginative insight into each was as impressive as her ability to change mood from the playful to the profound, from the elegant to the eccentric.
At the end the audience’s lengthy and enthusiastic applause was rewarded by Chopin’s spectacular Etude No 4 in C sharp minor.
Wigmore Hall, London, UK, November 16, 2014–As part of her first prize award in the
annual Jaques Samuel Intercollegiate piano competition, Jenna Sung gave her London
recital debut at Wigmore Hall November 16 to a full and appreciative house. I first heard
Sung during the 2010 Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels, and her artistry has
ripened and evolved in the interim. She continues to command a masterful and effortless
technique on all levels, yet never treats virtuosity as an end in itself, focusing instead on
details of dynamics, tonal shadings, and expression.
Sung’s gifts for multi-textural contouring came into their own during the next selection,
Scriabin’s Prelude and Nocturne for the left hand. Melodic lines and accompaniments
seemingly emerged from many hands and instruments, as opposed to just five fingers and
one remarkably resplendent Fazioli concert grand. In the first half’s concluding work,
Chopin’s B minor sonata, Sung came into focus during the first-movement development
section’s complex polyphony, and played down the Scherzo’s surface scintillation with
unusual voicings and accents. Lots of young pianists heave and sigh over the Largo, but
Sung kept the tempo rock-steady and the form air tight, making expressive points through color and inflection alone.
Sung dedicated the second part of her recital, which included two world premieres, to “all
that lost their lives at sea,” taking impetus from the April 16, 2014 Korean ferry MV Sewol
tragedy where more than 300 of its 476 passengers, mostly children, were killed. She
opened with Chopin’s Barcarolle, understating the main theme while spinning out
gorgeous legato double notes. Both passion and patience characterized Sung’s unfolding
of the sublime coda’s imitative writing, long trills, and rarely projected left-hand
A new barcarolle by Stephen Montague called “Nun-mul” (the Korean word for tears)
began with slow upward arpeggios and lilting figures that suggest the ruminative style of
certain Brahms late piano pieces. Later on, gnawing clusters sneak up, kick in, and
eventually descend to the keyboard’s lowest registers while a treble melody hangs by a
thread. The piece is relatively short and succinct, and leaves not one note unaccounted for
or wasted. Gwyn Pritchard’s “Tide” is more prolix, dissonant, and pianistically complex. It’s packed with speed-ups, slow-downs, and lots of sostenuto pedal trickery right out of the Berio Sequenza IV playbook. It required and received prodigious feats of agility, timbral
contrasts, and rhythmic acumen from the pianist, who was on top of as well as inside of
Likewise, Sung has internalized Ravel’s Gaspard de la nuit to a revealing degree since I
heard her play it in the 2010 Queen Elisabeth. She pushed Ondine to languid extremes,
imposing all sorts of fanciful rubatos and reversed dynamics, yet never lost control, save
for one teensy stumble from which she quickly rebounded. Conversely, Le Gibet
proceeded straight as a tack and impeccably poised, with its obsessive repeated B-flats
and billowy chords outlined in the exact dynamic perspectives that Ravel requests yet
rarely gets. Sung made child’s play out of Scarbo’s difficulties with deliciously scurrying
runs and nuanced rapid chords, achieving an impressive fusion of playful fantasy and
dramatic abandon. God only knows why 80 percent of pianists worldwide dutifully give
Chopin’s youthful, posthumously-published C-sharp minor Nocturne as an encore, including Sung. But it turned out to be a palate cleanser for a dazzling and individually phrased Chopin Etude. That was Sung’s real encore.
The Ravel Gaspard was well suited to the Shigeru-Kawai instrument. Ondine possessed a truly sparkling impressionist painting in sound of water enveloping the whimsical sprite. This pianist invests the work with intense emotion and extreme subtlety, listening all the while to the sound she is producing. In Le Gibet I felt a particularly deep involvement with the music and the creation of wonderful colour palette and nuances. She really is a highly artistic and poetic performer. Scarbo betrayed tremendous imagination. I felt she was seeing the antics of this vile creature in her mind’s eye – the furtive comings and goings, the vicious sallies – ‘the creature’ truly came to life. Mercurial with fantastic shifting moods this Scarbo was driven by inner complexes and horror and murderous drives. Sung revealed many internal details rarely revealed by other pianists. Wonderful control of mood through sound and colour – a painter indeed.