June 22, 2024

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A Teen Pianist Dubbed “Classical Music’s K-pop” Signs an Exclusive Deal with Decca

Decca Records in the UK has signed an exclusive deal with 19-year-old pianist Yunchan Lim, who has earned the moniker “classical music’s answer to K-pop.” Yunchan Lim made headlines by becoming the youngest-ever winner of the renowned Van Cliburn Piano Competition in Texas last year, wowing the music world with his captivating performances.

One standout performance was his rendition of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3, which has amassed over 12 million views on YouTube. After a competitive bidding war, Decca Records successfully secured the talented musician’s signature. Yunchan was courted by record companies from various international locations, including Tokyo, Paris, Amsterdam, Rome, London, New York, and Seoul. Ultimately, he chose to sign with the esteemed 94-year-old British label.

In a statement, Yunchan expressed his appreciation for Decca Records, citing their reputation for producing records with exceptional sound quality and their collaboration with numerous legendary musicians. He described Decca as a label that musicians can genuinely appreciate.

Yunchan Lim’s performances have been described as “visceral,” “magnetic,” and “poetic,” leaving a profound impact on audiences. His interpretation of Rachmaninoff’s concerto moved conductor Marin Alsop to tears during a performance in Texas. Critics have praised his skill and passion, with The Independent’s Jessica Duchen noting that his playing is so exceptional that it feels like a dream.

Yunchan, born in Siheung, South Korea, in 2004, credits his love for the piano to his mother’s early exposure to recordings of Chopin and Liszt. He began piano lessons at the age of seven and enrolled in the Music Academy of Seoul Arts Centre at the age of eight.

Since his Van Cliburn victory, Yunchan has released two recordings. The first, Liszt’s Transcendental Études, was recorded during the competition’s semi-finals. The second is a live performance of Beethoven’s Emperor concerto with the Gwangju Symphony Orchestra, released by Universal Music Korea, which achieved platinum status in his home country within hours.

Decca Records will release his first studio recording in spring 2024. Tom Lewis, the label’s co-president, expressed excitement over securing Yunchan’s signature, hailing him as the most promising new classical artist worldwide.