The Strad issue
Min-Jin Kym (violin) Ian Brown (piano) Philharmonia Orchestra, Andrew Davis (conductor)
Following her critically acclaimed recording of Lalo’s Symphonie espagnole, Min-Jin Kym offers a strongly lyrical, authoritative account of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto. She shapes and unfolds the composer’s melismatic passages with commendable artistry and blends comfortably into the orchestral textures.
Kym’s reading of the first movement is steady and expansive. Her pure tone and gossamer-light playing in the higher registers contrasts with a more assertive approach in some of the passagework, which occasionally results in some coarseness of sound. Her thoughtful, slightly understated reading of the Larghetto is characterised by its serenity and wistful tenderness, and her account of the final rondo is appropriately buoyant and cleanly articulated, culminating in an arresting cadenza. Andrew Davis and the Philharmonia Orchestra provide a background tapestry of discretion and assertion.
Kym and pianist Ian Brown succeed where many have failed in Beethoven’s op.30 no.2, achieving an excellent rapport and capturing the spirit, passion and sheer drama of the outer movements with power and conviction. Again, some coarseness of tone occasionally results from Kym’s youthful exuberance, notably in the finale, which is otherwise intelligently shaped, culminating in a whirlwind of a coda. Both players sustain the line well in the Adagio cantabile, but the already slow tempo tends to flag at times; not so, though, that of the cheerful Scherzo. Its off-beat sforzandos are incisively executed and the smooth, flowing line of its contrasting trio is expressively conveyed.
Accomplished, pleasing recordings overall, then, but neither quite reaches the top five of its work’s highly competitive field.