Beethoven: Violin Concerto; Violin Sonata No. 7 in C minor, Op. 30/2

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COMPOSERS: Beethoven
LABELS: Sony
ALBUM TITLE: Beethoven
WORKS: Violin Concerto; Violin Sonata No. 7 in C minor, Op. 30/2
PERFORMER: Min-Jin Kym (violin), Ian Brown (piano); Philharmonia Orchestra/Andrew Davis
CATALOGUE NO: 88697144422

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The opening tutti sets the scene for a fairly middle-of-the-road performance – not as urgent as Heifetz, Zehetmair or Mullova, but neither as sluggish as Vengerov. There’s poise in the orchestral phrasing, and a well balanced, detailed texture, nicely caught by the warm recording. But Kym’s first entry is a little anonymous, and throughout the long first movement she doesn’t always have a firm sense of direction. Like many soloists, she takes the minor key episode in the development much more slowly than the prevailing tempo, and, despite sweet tone and firm rhythm, the lack of pulse means that the Allegro character is never consistently held. In the Larghetto, her moulding of the line is more in keeping with the sensibility of the music, though there’s still rather too much milking of the phrases. That’s something that Oistrakh or Milstein could get away with through the sheer distinction (and distinctiveness) of their playing, but with Kym, it doesn’t always work. The finale is the least problematic movement, and comes off most successfully, but there are more gripping performances out there. The Sonata works best in the more puckishly humorous passages than in places where power is needed – the first movement is a mixed bag from this point of view, though the scherzo is delightful, and Ian Brown’s playing is always completely assured and imaginative. Things come together in the beautifully-spun line of the Adagio cantabile and in the vigorous finale – would that Kym had shown similar energy in the Concerto. Martin Cotton