Meet HJ Lim.
The 25-year-old Korean pianist signed an exclusive contract with EMI and for her debut album has just recorded all of the Beethoven Piano Sonatas. I know, right? It’s kind of like deciding to get into hiking and starting with Mt. Everest.
Like Yuja Wang–who left her home in Beijing at age 14 to study in Canada, then the United States–HJ Lim also packed up and headed abroad at a young age (12) to study in France. To keep in touch with her parents back home in South Korea…and to show her progress as a pianist, Lim would upload videos of her performances to YouTube.
“It’s a chance for every artist to share your art, your expression, your music – whatever you want – with everyone in the world,” she told Gramophone magazine. “The way of communication is democratized. That’s the most important thing there is.”
Also important, it seems, is the democratization of art. Lim’s debut recording of all 32 of the Beethoven Piano Sonatas (9 hours of music) will be offered exclusively on iTunes for just $9.99. (You can pre-order now. The recording will be released May 22nd.)
If you just can’t wait until next week–or if you’re too cheap to get all 32 Beethoven Piano Sonatas for less than 10 bucks–you can download the Sonata No. 30 for free here. No strings attached. (Although, they’ve screwed up the movement numbers and what the website says is mvt I is actually mvt II and vice versa. Still, it’s free.)
How are the performances? Well, I’d love to tell you, but alas, I can’t. Because it’s an iTunes-only release and there are no CDs available, EMI sent me a fancy USB drive that supposedly has the complete recordings on it.
Only trouble is, I plug it in and nothing happens. Maybe, to quote Jim Svejda, I’m a “techno-boob,” but I’m thinking I just got a defective device. Guess I’ll have to plop down my Alexander Hamilton and just get the whole thing when it comes out next week. But hey, $10 is a small risk for me, the consumer, to gain access to what is a huge risk for HJ Lim, the artist.