Kym may be a new name to many reading this review.
she is also a new name – in a quite literal sense – to me
too, for when I had the great pleasure of interviewing her
a decade ago for my BBC radio programme she was Min-Jin Kim
(with an “i”) and I still have an autographed CD to prove
a massive reserve of talent and the marketing resources of
Sony Classical behind her, I suspect that Ms. Kym will not
remain so comparatively little known for much longer.
recipient of the Jascha Heifetz Society’s first ever Heifetz
Prize, she comes with impeccable credentials and a host of
authoritative testimonials. Sir Georg Solti praised her “exceptional
natural talent, mature musicality and mastery of the violin”,
Ruggiero Ricci rates her as “the most talented violinist,
both instrumentally and musically, I have ever worked with”
and a reviewer in The Strad considered her “a legitimate
heir to Heifetz”. Somewhat more questionably, given that there
are still 92 years to go until the year 2100, she has also
received a Korean award for “Most Promising Artist of the
references to Heifetz might well lead one to expect the technically
immaculate yet steely and Olympian – or, as his detractors
might put it, cold and emotionally aloof – approach that often
characterised performances by the “violinist of the century.”
On the contrary, Kym, while technically entirely secure, showcases
some very different musical qualities, notably a degree of
warmth and humanity not usually associated with Heifetz’s
is, indeed, a much more ruminative and thoughtful account
of the concerto than we are often offered. Both soloist and
conductor are entirely at one in a relatively spacious conception
that relates the music’s benign mood to that of the composer’s
contemporaneous fourth symphony and fourth piano concerto.
The superb recording establishes a beautifully-engineered
balance between violin and orchestra - the Philharmonia in
very fine form - so that several felicitous but often overlooked
details of the score come clearly through. As a result, one
finds oneself listening to the music far more intently
than one does in flashier but more superficial interpretations.
Classical appear to want to demonstrate the range of their
soloist’s musicality, so instead of filling the disc with
a second concerto – or perhaps Beethoven’s two relatively
rarely heard Romances for violin and orchestra – they have
opted for a violin sonata.
with her regular partner Ian Brown - on the day I write this,
I note that they will be performing at Ilkley Concert Society
- Kym tackles the comparatively turbulent op.30 no.2 with
insouciance and aplomb. In the lengthy Adagio cantabile,
the artists retain the warmth and gentle delicacy exhibited
earlier in the concerto.
in all, this is a superb disc that will give much pleasure
to anyone looking for a modern recording of these works to
add to their collection.
not, by the way, be fooled by the CD’s front cover that shows
Ms. Kym with an impassive, emotionless and Heifetz-like demeanour.
If you flip over the jewel case, you will find a happy, laughing
and charming image that gives a far more accurate visual impression
of the overall tone of this very welcome new release.