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The Grand Duo
Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949)
Violin Sonata in E flat Major Op. 18 [30:34]
Avner DORMAN (b. 1975)
Sonata No. 2 for Violin and Piano [10:03]
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Violin Sonata in A Major D. 574 [23:52]
So Jin Kim (violin)
David Fung (piano)
rec. 2017, Mendelssohn-Saal, Gewandhaus, Leipzig

This seems to be the first CD release by So Jin Kim and David Fung and demonstrates well the pair’s versatility; they are a grand duo indeed, and one to watch.

The disc opens with the E flat Major Sonata by Richard Strauss. Most of his early chamber works seem to occupy a place on the periphery of his output and are somewhat neglected. The Sonata was composed between 1887 and 1888 and dedicated to his cousin Robert Pschorr; of all his chamber works, this is the one that has fared best, with a number of fine recordings. This is probably due its containing more of the style which was later to come from the composer. It is a strongly Romantic sonata, that I first came to know through the excellent Arts recording by Ernö Sebestyen and Wolfgang Sawallisch, which is now available in a Brilliant box of the chamber music (9231). So Jin Kim and David Fung compare well with that; they are slightly slower in the outer movements and quicker in the slow central Andante, and although I prefer Sebestyen’s and Sawallisch’s slower approach to this movement, there is less than a minute’s difference between them and this is still a strong reading. However, neither can compare for excitement to the recording by Tasmin Little and Piers Lane (CHAN 10749), which is the quickest of all.

The middle piece is the premier recording of the Violin Sonata No. 2 from 2008, a short two movement work lasting just ten minutes. The piece opens with an Adagio religioso, which is first quiet and reminds me of “Spiegel im Spiegel” by Arvo Pärt, but soon builds to become quicker music of greater intensity. This intensity is carried over into the second movement Prestissimo-adagio con rubato-prestissimo. This is a strongly modernist but still accessible piece which is here given a committed and brilliant performance.

The final work on the disc needs no introduction, as the A Major Violin Sonata by Schubert is a mainstay of many a violinist. So Jin Kim and David Fung give it clean and precise performance, with So Jin Kim’s beautiful violin tone coming to the fore. Whilst the performance cannot compare for sheer passion with the likes of Isabelle Faust (HMX 2908454-55) or Julia Fischer (PTC 5186 348), it is very nearly up there with the best.

The good recorded sound is very good and there are fine booklet notes by So Jin Kim himself; I look forward to future releases from this duo.

Stuart Sillitoe


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