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The Strad Issue: March 2018  
Description: Two concertos, two eras, two contrasting performances  
Musicians: Bomsori Kim (violin), Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra/Jacek Kaspszyk  
Works: SHOSTAKOVICH Violin Concerto no.1. WIENIAWSKI Violin Concerto no.2  
Catalogue Number: WARNER CLASSICS 0190295763220

Born in 1989, South Korean violinist Bomsori Kim makes her debut on record with the Polish virtuoso showpiece that won her the second prize and critics’ prize at the 2016 Wieniawski International Violin Competition. It’s an intelligent choice for a technically well-schooled musician who draws unfailingly ample tone from a 1774 Guadagnini. Aided by finely moulded conducting from Kaspszyk, she uses a vibrato quivering with youthful ardour and a lovely, supple bow to point out the concerto’s Mendelssohnian heritage. There are more beautifully varied left-hand colours in the central Romanze, and a rhythmically secure discipline to the finale pays dividends in bringing palpable tension and finally relief to all the pyrotechnics: I can’t remember when I last enjoyed this concerto so much.

The Shostakovich presents Kim with a stiffer challenge. The undulating cantilena of her opening Nocturne is as serene but also as flat as a millpond on a summer afternoon; no terrors lie in wait here. Compare the opening of the scherzo with that of Nicola Benedetti on Decca and it’s obvious within a bar or two what’s lacking: a sense of risk and an element of bite. Even though she is advantageously balanced against a thickly textured Warsaw Philharmonic, her sound comes across as somewhat congested at different points in the concerto. However ardent her cantabile in the Passacaglia, there’s little at stake and the cadenza is stylistically too close for comfort to the extrovert display of Wieniawski. At least for now, Kim’s strengths may lie in the Romantic classics.