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Concert Review: Min-Jin Kym, Violinist

By John Sidgwick

READING, ENGLAND, 29 November 1999 - Such has been the development of the teaching of the violin over the past forty years that the world over, there are scores of violinists who can toss you off a note-perfect performance of the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto with all the ease and superficiality of "Have a nice day". But there lies the problem. This gem of a piece in the violin repertory convinces only when the performer is endowed with poetic feeling in addition to all the essential technical attributes.

On November 24th, the 22-year-old Korean violinist, Min-Jin Kym, treated the audience at the Hexagon Theatre in Reading, England, to a rare moment of grace and beauty in her performance of the Mendelssohn Concerto with the Philharmonia Orchestra under the baton of Vladimir Ashkenazy. Earlier this year, with the same orchestra and conductor, Min-Jin gave a much-acclaimed account of the Max Bruch Violin Concerto at the Chichester Festival and her playing in Reading confirmed all the hopes aroused on that occasion.

Min-Jin has it in her gift to turn familiar phrases - and the Mendelssohn Concerto is full of these - into something heard as though for the first time. Be it in the passionate and lyrical first movement, the serene slow movement or in the sparkling finale, she was always there with fresh insight. Her tone is warm and strong and she has no difficulty in asserting the violin's presence; moreover, even in the trickiest technical passages, she remains firm and secure.

Recently, Min-Jin's mentor, the prestigious violinist Ruggiero Ricci, said the following: "Too often one hears the cliché that a young artist is a born violinist. In the case of Min-Jin, however, there is no doubt: she is that rare species - a born violinist."

Clearly, somebody to look out for.

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