Min-Jin Kym & Ian Brown at Wigmore Hall

Sonata in G minor for Violin and Piano
Sonata No.2 in D for Violin and Piano, Op.94b
Sonata in A for Violin and Piano

Min-Jin Kym (violin) & Ian Brown (piano)

Reviewed by: Peter Reed

Reviewed: 10 April, 2010
Venue: Wigmore Hall, London

Min-Jin Kym. Photograph: www.min-jin.comThe Korean-born, British-bred violinist Min-Jin Kym has gone on to great things since her Purcell School and Royal College of Music glory days. I last heard her three years ago and remember especially her searching and intimate performance of Fauré’s First Violin sonata and in general doffed my cap to her poised, unflashy and slightly reserved style. A lot can happen in three years, and to judge from this recital, her playing style is more generous, the sound bigger, even voluptuous, but still fastidiously teasing out the music’s secrets.

Of the three sonatas in her programme, the Debussy suited her best, and she sounded completely in sympathy with the music’s reflective, almost distracted fantasy, and she produced a miraculously veiled, distant sound for the mysterious Intermezzo. The Prokofiev requires a more robustly extrovert approach, and she dug deep into the first movement’s military-style fanfares and lingered lyrically over the charms of the Andante. The humorous and fearsomely difficult finale showed off her formidably secure and dazzling virtuosity. It was stylish and very impressive, and I appreciated her ever-so-slightly cool appraisal of the music’s more raucous passages.

There are many performances of César Franck’s Violin Sonata that make you go down on your knees and give thanks for Brahms. In all his big works, with the exception of the three organ Chorales, Franck never quite cracked the art of spontaneity at the expense of form, which Brahms did, transcendentally. The Franck could not have had a more persuasive performance from Kym; she played down the music’s rather overwrought turbulence while emphasising its rhapsody with a huge range of tone, and the introduction of the big tune was a little masterpiece of control and subtlety.

Ian Brown, the Nash Ensemble’s indomitable pianist, has been Min-Jin Kym’s performance partner for a number of years. His command of the variety of styles was masterly, and his discreet, unfussy playing complemented Kym’s approach perfectly.

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