Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Phantasiestucke Op. 73 (1849) [11:25]
Drei Romanzen Op. 94 (1849) [12:58]
Märchenbilder Op. 113 (1851) [15:13]
Adagio und Allegro Op. 70 (1849) [8:33]
Jeajoon RYU (b.1970)
Sonata for violin and piano [21:23]
Eungsoo Kim (violin); Moon-Young Chae (piano)
rec. Vienna, 2010
TELOS TLS127 [66:33]
For the present recital this husband and wife team have opted to play a mixture of piano miniatures by Schumann, all of which were originally written for instruments other than the violin, and a sonata by Jeajoon Ryu (a student of Penderecki) dating from 2008. Schumann’s Adagio and Allegro was originally written for horn and piano, the Phantasiestücke for clarinet and piano, the Drei Romanzen for oboe and piano and the Märchenbilder for viola and piano. The composer evidently indicated that some of these pieces could also be played on the violin or cello but I was interested to see how they would translate.
Overall, this was a very good recital with both players showing a real rapport and a shared understanding of Schumann’s music and idiom. Eungsoo Kim is clearly the finer player and his violin is the dominant force in most of the pieces although Chae is also highly competent and gifted.
Most of the Schumann pieces are in ternary form apart from the final Adagio and Allegro. In the opening piece of the Phantasiestücke, the players shape the material well and use nicely judged rubato. I was struck by how well Kim makes the violin sing and there are some really lovely, swooning melodic lines. I particularly liked the articulation in the light scale passages in the second piece with pleasing imitation between the two instruments. The opening of the third piece is done very well with Kim brilliant and vibrant, while the minor key middle section is full of romantic yearning.
The Drei Romanzen are more introspective and reflective. In the first of these the players show satisfying rapport in sustaining unbroken the thread of melody while responding to Schumann’s mercurial shifts and mood changes. Kim plays with real passion in the central section of the second piece while both players capture beautifully the multiple shifts of mood in the finale. The martial character of the second of the Märchenbilder is well executed and both players show their virtuoso credentials in the difficult passage work in the middle section. There is more well executed passage-work and pyrotechnics in the third piece and some lovely tone colours and textures in the central section. The final piece is one of those glorious bitter-sweet Schumann melodies which Kim plays in a lyrical and sensuous way.
Kim’s tone in the opening Adagio in the Adagio and Allegro is absolutely ravishing as he makes Schumann’s melodic line soar and swoon. The ensuing allegro is exhilarating and vibrant although I thought this was the only piece were Kim’s violin was in danger of becoming strident.
I was unaware of Jeajoon Ryu’s music before listening to this recital and did not know quite what to expect from this sonata. I have to say that I rather liked it and would thoroughly recommend it as a highly accessible and enjoyable ‘modern’ classical piece. The music is essentially tonal, uses a wide range of tone colour and is both expressive and lyrical. The first movement uses very fragmented thematic material but Kim and Chae synthesise this extremely well so it has a natural flow and makes musical sense. The second movement has overtones of early Berg and Kim and Chae bring out the rich harmonies, textures and tone colours in a highly dramatic way. The last movement is a scherzo and once again both players capture its playful and whimsical character. Ryu should be pleased at having such a fine performance of his sonata committed to disc. If you are curious there is also a Naxos CD of two of his orchestral works (review).

Robert Beattie
A very good recital with both players showing a real rapport and a shared understanding.