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Classical Concerto Finals, Night 2: More Mozart and New Cadenzas

Laurie Niles

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Published: September 19, 2014 at 5:20 AM [UTC]

The all-Mozart Classical Finals continued Thursday night in the 2014 International Violin Competition of Indianapolis at the Christel DeHann Fine Arts Center, and it did bring to light a few new cadenzas, at least for me. (You can listen to these performances on the live-streaming or archived performances.)

Thursday night featured three finalists: Ji Young Lim, Yoo Jin Jang and Dami Kim, all of South Korea, in concert with the conductorless East Coast Chamber Orchestra. They followed Tessa Lark, Jinjoo Cho and Yi Yoon Lee, who played their Classical Finals Wednesday night.

The first two finalists played Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 4 in D.

Ji Young Lim, 19, played first. Her well-articulated bow arm made for a clear and uncluttered sound, which projected quite well.

Photo by Denis Kelly

She produced a nice unbroken melody line in the second movement, drawing a sweet and beautiful tone from the 1794 Giuseppe Guadagnini, on loan to her from Kumho Asiana Cultural Foundation. A few times she and the orchestra fell out of sync; Concerto No. 4 might be a bit harder to do without conductor than Concerto No. 5, which all contestants played last night. For example, in the second movement, there are quite a few lines in both orchestra and solo part that begin on an off-beat. She played the traditional Joachim cadenzas.

Yoo Jin Jang, 23, was the only one on this night who played most of the orchestral tuttis (those introductions and bridges written for the orchestra, not the soloist.) This got soloist and orchestra off to a collaborative start, even before the first solo entrance.

Photo by Denis Kelly

I did not recognize the cadenzas she played; later she told me that they were cadenzas by the pianist Robert Levin, originally written for violinist Gidon Kremer. One moment was particularly sweet in the second movement, just a bit of sublime playing high on the E string. She seemed to connect well with the orchestra.

Dami Kim, 25 showed a real gift for pacing, able to get the momentum rolling, moving the music forward without rushing or going too fast.

Photo by Denis Kelly

She also played cadenzas by Robert Levin, which felt a little fuller and more fitting in the fifth concerto than in the fourth. ECCO responded immediately to her dynamic scheme in the third-movement Turkish section, and that was a joy.

One thought for ECCO about playing with soloists: the ladies of ECCO wear beautiful, colored long gowns for performance, and I loved that look. But sometimes their beautiful gowns competed just a bit with the soloists' beautiful long gowns. Maybe wear black, when there's a soloist? (Opinions on this?)

After the finalists played, ECCO treated us to a wonderful version of "La Follia" written by one of their members, Michi Wiancko, based on Geminiani's version of this work. This was a tremendously fun piece for all, but especially for anyone who has ever played or heard Corelli's "La Folia" from Suzuki Book 6. It starts innocently enough, in Baroque style, then gradually the not-Baroque elements sneak in: a violinist puts down the fiddle to play a castanet for a variation, they start passing their passagework around the room, a violist gets out a tambourine, and before you know it we've have a few variations written in the style of a mystery genre -- (tango? new age? easy listening?) that is certainly modern. Then it jerks straight back to Baroque, as if that were all a dream, but it can't stay there. There's Riverdance-like stomping...If you want to hear this piece, check it out on their album.

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Posted on September 19, 2014 at 2:33 PM
I thought ECCO's multi-colored gowns also was "too much" in collaboration with a soloist. Then again, perhaps it adds a lighter "air" to the stage, making it less formal/intimidating for the contestants.

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