Choosing the programme for a debut CD is not an easy
matter for a violinist. The young musician could choose a tried and
tested warhorse, the Bruch G Minor or Saint-Saens 3, coupled with a
suitable discmate. If the disc is of sonatas, maybe the Brahms Op 78
is a good test of oneís structural cohesion, romantic sensibility, qualities
of tonal projection and characterisation. A contemporary work is always
an arresting beginning or maybe affinities with the Franco-Belgian or
German schools could be demonstrated with the solo sonatas of Ysaye
or Reger or maybe even Zimmermann. The young South Korean violinist
Min Jin studied successively at the Purcell School and the Royal College
of Music and has given a debut disc that combines some of these components.
Thereís a staple in the Lalo, a virtuoso powerhouse Sarasate and also
the solo sonata of Prokofiev. In addition she plays the Tárrega
in its arrangement by Min Jinís mentor, Ruggiero Ricci, whose blazing
encomium to her is reproduced in the booklet notes. For added measure
thereís Krollís Banjo and Fiddle in an arrangement for Violin and orchestra.
Essentially therefore we have an astutely Spanish oriented recital with
a taste of her twentieth century interests in the Prokofiev and a folksy
Heifetzian excursion in the Kroll.
She made her debut at the age of twelve in the Lalo
with the Berlin Symphony Orchestra and is confident enough to reprise
it for this recording. She can indulge some spicy lyric phrasing in
the first movement and shapes musical paragraphs with real understanding,
some minor bowing problems aside. She isnít afraid to withdraw tone
when appropriate. Some diminuendo-crescendo playing runs throughout
the movement and the accompaniment can sometimes veer toward the foursquare.
In the once derided Intermezzo Ė once routinely detached for recording
purposes Ė she summons up a pleasurable range of colours and shadings,
has a bright, tight trill, even and fast, and is occasionally metrically
daring. Sensitivity marks out her performance of the Andante and a strong
conquering of those fearsome left hand pizzicatos and glissandos in
The Lalo was written for Sarasate whose Carmen fantasie
Min Jin plays with rather less authority than she did the Symphonie
espagnole. Her tone tends to coarsen in grittier passages. The Kroll
appears in an orchestral string guise courtesy of John Bradbury and
this rather takes the tang from Krollís eyebrow-cocking cheek and indulges
some swooning fiddles to rather unpleasant effect. In addition, in the
central interlude Min Jinís extravagant lyricism is rather overdone.
The Prokofiev is good Ė the technical and expressive demands are adeptly
dealt with and the dance themes coursing throughout the work are properly
acknowledged. Recuerdos de la Alhambra, in Ricciís arrangement, is reasonably
done but ultimately lacks tone and charisma. Iím sure they will come
in time. I hope Min Jin will continue to explore the Romantic repertoire
and the many twentieth century solo sonatas to advantage.