Things are going well for German School of Music flute professor Philipp Jundt. An already popular and respected flutist in Korea, he was greeted with enthusiastic applause as he walked on stage and joined conductor Martin Stüder and the New Zürich Orchestra in Seoul Arts Center’s Concert Hall the evening of April 25. One wonders if the audience knew what they were in for.
Jundt began a seeming marathon of 16th notes with machine gun-like power and precision as the violins joined in, plucking along with the cold strictness of a metronome. The rest of the orchestra was brought in by Stüder as Jundt continued his athletic playing, leaping from octave to octave, maintaining his clarity and prominence. And so went the first movement of Joaquín Rodrigo’s Concierto Pastoral.
Jundt was meant to play Rodrigo. “It was premiered by Sir James Galway in London almost two weeks before I was born,” Jundt explains. “It’s definitely one of the most technically challenging pieces ever written for the flute.” And while he met the challenge of the technical and repetitive first movement, it was in the definitive second movement where he displayed the deep connection he had with this work. His ability to go back and forth between the melancholy and lighthearted themes with sincerity was awe-inspiring, while the exquisiteness of his cadenza, concluded with a breath that seemed to go on for minutes through gorgeous crescendos and diminuendos, was nothing short of astounding.
Jundt had debuted Rodrigo’s concerto with the New Zürich Orchestra several days before at Suntory Hall in Tokyo, followed by two performances in Korea at Gumi Arts Center and Cheonan Arts Center. With stops on the tour in Shanghai, Singapore, and Bangkok, the performances have reportedly only gotten better. Jundt and the orchestra will conclude the tour in the second week of May after which he can surely return home with a feeling of triumph and a place among the outstanding flutists of his generation.