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Korean, Boston-based pianist Eunhye Jeong says that «Nolda», the title of her second solo piano album, can be translated as play, a term often associated with playful activities. «One may interpret this word as a fun, free-flowing action on the piano. That is partly true, but I dare ask: who can have fun and experience true freedom without ‘knowing thyself’?» She asks. «Nolda means transcending the physical reality without abandoning it at all, which is made of body, mind, and the world. We music creators are artists who work with invisible and intangible energy forms as ingredients to create. Nolda, in this sense, is the magic of music-making».

«Nolda», recorded at Futura Productions in Roslindale, MA, in January 2021, sounds like no other solo piano album. You can hear in Jeong’s playing echoes of Korean musical traditions like the Pansori, modern jazz and contemporary music, all immersed in her restless musical personality who always takes risks and seeks freedom. Obviously, Jeong’s commanding technique and control of the piano are means to sculpt, construct and improvise on intriguing architectural patterns, kinetic dances, imaginary landscapes (and especially ones referring to the classic paintings of Korean nature) as well as tonal contrasts and silences.

Each piece sounds like a distinct meditative and sometimes a dramatic journey into Jeong’s history as an artist, the diverse influences that molded her musical personality and imagination and her studies in Korea and in the Berklee College of Music. All reflect her total dedication to free music, her sharp listening gifts, as well as her approach that sees music-making as a vehicle for finding freedom. She describes it in a more poetic manner: «The creatures living in the mountains acknowledge my existence. Listening with their whole being seemed easier for them. This album is a reflection of the nature of my home country imprinted in my body and soul».

Jeong’s puzzling pieces like «Columnar Jointing», «Rooted» or «Emerging Islands» stress her highly expressive and adventurous aesthetics, never subscribing to common, familiar conventions and always finds freedom within enigmatic textures.

Eyal Hareuveni

Eunhye Jeong (p)

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