Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Recording the Pianists at The Great Courses – Part Two

Eun Joo Chung - The Making of - The Great Courses - Greatest Solo Piano Music

Eun Joo Chung

Today we had the opportunity to meet and hear the third of our three pianists, Eun Joo Chung. She recorded the excerpts for two great and most virtuosic works: Johannes Brahms’ “Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel” and Aaron Copland’s “Piano Variations”.

She was absolutely stunning.

Some logistical info. The studio in which we are recording is a fairly large room, in which the piano is placed dead center in the middle. At any given moment, there are five or six people in the studio. First (and obviously), there is the pianist. Then there are three camera-people, operating, as one might expect, three cameras, which are arrayed around the piano. I am seated at a table to the side, from which I can talk to the pianist and monitor events. Finally, there is my Academic Content Supervisor Cat Lyon, who when called upon leaves the adjacent control room and joins us in the studio in order to turn pages for the pianists

I would call your attention to the three camera people. My friends, it is a defining skill that good camera people (and I would tell you that The GREAT Courses employs GREAT camera people) are unflappable: they must be able to record the activity before their cameras with a degree of cool bordering on detachment.

Well, the camera-dudes were anything but “cool” today. It took Eun Joo all of about 15 minutes to have them hootin’ and hollerin’ and shaking their heads in wonder over her musicality and pianism.

I, with my rather greater experience in dealing with world-class musicians, kept my emotions in somewhat better check. I only cried twice during Eun Joo’s session (and she was playing excerpts!), and instead of cheering at the end of her performances I maintained a measure of professional decorum by quietly croaking my comments – “perfect!”; “wonderful!”; “brilliant!” – to myself.

There’s no doubt about it: Eun Joo Chung is a pianist we must all keep on our radar.