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Chee - Yun Kim plays Introduction et Rondo Capriccioso with the National Philharmonic.

February 4, 2012 at 6:55 PM

Often when one goes to the symphony, a concerto is almost always on the list of the program. This did not happen on the 12th of November 2011 at the Strathmore Music Center in Bethesda, MD. Select few of the audience excluding music students and enthusiasts did not know that they were in for a treat of a rare kind.

How many times does one get to hear virtuoso pieces such as the Introduction et Rondo Capriccioso by Saint Saens performed live on stage? I can definitely say that I'm surely one of those people. It's only in recordings and in YouTube videos that we listen to these great short master works. It's a huge opportunity for both the audience members who rarely get to listen to these pieces live, as well as the soloists who aren't always booked to play these pieces.

Internationally renowned Korean-American violinist Chee- Yun, did a fantastic job, bringing this piece to justice.

Chee- Yun walked in cladded in a lovely and elegant grey spaghetti strap dress holding her Francesco Ruggeri violin made in 1669.

Chee- Yun gracefully entered without contrasting the soft and subtle opening played by the string section. The fast sections were played brilliantly without any inhibition or technical defect. Chee- Yun clearly proved it that she truly indeed is a virtuoso of a rare kind, mastering perfectly all the art of the difficult up-bow staccatos, double-stop passages, harmonics and the overwhelming buckets of fast running notes that this virtuoso piece demands for.

It was obvious she was very much living in the music; breathing life, energy and passion to each and every note she played. Instead of standing still facing the audience during the tutti passages, Chee- Yun turned back and faced towards the orchestra members as if she was not just a soloists, but rather an intimate part of the orchestra itself enjoying every interval and note being played. A true musician she is indeed.

The sound of her 343 year old Francesco Ruggeri violin was just out of the world. Sitting at one of the very last corners on the third floor of the hall, I could hear every sound, be it piano or forte. Her instrument's ability to project so efficiently was simply amazing. Surprising in way to me because, a few months ago I was at a Joshua Bell concert. He performed the Bruch concerto with the NSO and and times, I really had to push my ears to the maximum to hear the notes from his 1713 "ex-Gibson" Stradivarius. It was a struggle and many times I couldn't hear the notes coming out. I experienced the same difficulty with Midori's Britten Concerto on her Guarneri del Gesu. Sometimes it makes me wonder that if us musicians and violin enthusiasts have over rated these so called "top two" violin makers to an extent where it is overshadowing the brilliant craftsmanship of other prominent violin makers from the same era such as Francesco Ruggeri,Amati, Guadagnini etc.

Chee- Yun received a standing ovation and two curtain calls with streams of shouts exclaiming " Brava !!" every now and then. She then greeted the audience members during the intermission. She was very warm and welcoming. A charming personality. A fantastic musician, humble heart and friendly personality sums up to be a perfect human being , Chee- Yun surely possessed all the characteristics. It was a night that none of the people who attended the concert would ever forget.

Vanlal Hruaia

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