The Prioscope: by Roman Kim

June 14, 2016 at 11:19 PM ·

A must watch video

The Prioscope

Replies (25)

June 15, 2016 at 03:51 AM · I love his playing. Wonderful harmonics and that dental pizzicato...

June 15, 2016 at 01:51 PM · Well...prism glasses here I come!

June 15, 2016 at 02:43 PM · So there is re-incarnation, after all!?

June 15, 2016 at 02:55 PM · Incarnation: marshmallows in instant hot chocolate. Mmmmm

June 16, 2016 at 04:52 AM · Greetings,

well, Roman Kin can do a number of things better on the violin than any player in history that I am aware of. He appears to have some kind of perfect blend of physical set up and muscle type which (credit where credit is due) he has worked on to be able to do all that incredible left hand pizz stuff. He has dazzling and extremely accurate facility around the violin which kind of reminded me of Kavakos and he has a decent sound. I wanted to see a bit more of what he could do so I looked at Paginini Caprice number one. Tossed off at extremely high speed with excellent coordination and intonation. Just my opinion, but for technical merit it gets full marks but for interpretation and meaningful music making it does absolutely nothing for me. My view of just what a superb piece of music this caprice actually is was radically altered by listening to the relatively young Russian/American ? dude who studied with Perlman whose name will come back to me after I finish writing this. In his performance the tremendous pptential beauty and melodic aspect of the work was revealed in a way so unexpected I couldnt stop listening to it for weeks. His recording of the caprices is one of the most revolutionary and important verisons of these works ot be released in years. (There is a blog of his on the caprices available on this site) A few of the performances are available on you tube. I regret to say that in comparison the purely technique orientated approach type manifested by KIm is largely uninteresting to me these days. I listened to a few more works of various genres but cannot say my opinion changed that much.

The jaw drops but the ears don`t twitch.

Cheers,

Buri

June 16, 2016 at 05:38 AM · "whose name will come back to me after I finish writing this"

So Buri does the name still evade you? Or did you forget to remember

June 16, 2016 at 05:47 AM · Ilya Gringolts not of Harry Potter fame.

I just did a quick search and clicked on his Bach Largo from accompanied sonata. That is soooo beautiful it made my jaw drop and ears twitch.

Cheers,

Buri

June 16, 2016 at 05:50 AM · Ilya Gringolts!

Roman Kim with his sensational technical abilities seems to have found his niche in a hard-fought market, good for him. I like that he does "his thing" and explores und pushes the boundaries of the instrument even further.

June 16, 2016 at 06:57 AM ·

Buri, we can't expect Celine Dion to sing like Johnny Cash.

I think Roman Kim is more of an artist with showmanship, than a romantic.

Here is a better recording of his playing, and it is one of his compositions.

Roman Kim: Ballade, Dies Irae

Of coarse I'm more of a Jimmy Page fan than Hendrix.

June 16, 2016 at 07:17 AM · Greetings,

I have no intention of denigrating what he does so much bette rthan anyone else. He is't a fake showman by any means . However, I annot say I am too impressed by the implication that I am simply looking at a differnet style oflaying as per the singer analogy. That would suggest that my ,usical insight is poor . Perhaps it is. But for me, theoint is much simpler and clear cut. With all due respect his his mind boggling talent, in terms of musical insight and artistry I do not beleive he ranks along side the best performers of today. Whether or not this is the result of over focusing on very specific aspects of playing at the expense of everything else is a moderately interesting but not useful subject of debate. His credibilty on apurely musical level is something that I feel perfectly qualified to analyse although that must always contain an element of subjectivity.

Cheers,

Buri

June 16, 2016 at 11:59 AM · Hmmm...first off, I think those prioscope glasses are just attention-getters, as he is also shown playing just as well without them. But maybe he has a contact-lens version of them! Amazing technique? Yes. Sound? Not so much, though YouTubes can often provide less than the best fidelity to someone's sound. Musicianship? I'll reserve judgement till I've heard him in some (original) Bach, Mozart, Beethoven or Brahms. The greatest technique in history? Well, a few other names to the contrary spring to mind: Heifetz, Nadien, Ricci, Accardo, etc., etc. One example: https://youtu.be/MsAQT1W_zyY - phenominal Paganini technique, impeccable, and classy. Bravissimo Maestro Accardo! (I'm not sure what kind of glasses he's wearing!) Ricci in his last recital and well into his 80's, played that almost as well. And here's just a little snippet from the great H. - an endless cascade of fast notes in the 1st mvt. of the Sinding Suite, yet it makes me want to cry. https://youtu.be/YWXPQvs_RLs Yes, as Buri says, the jaw drops but the ears don't twitch - and the heart doesn't flutter either. The dental technique? Well I'm of the opinion that the performer should be fed before or after the performance - not during!

My first teacher, Harry Fratkin, told me a story of his audition for Leopold Auer, who had also taught Elman, Heifetz, Milstein, etc. etc. He played for Auer the Bach Chaconne and the Mendelssohn concerto and felt that he gave a rather good account of himself. Auer accepted him but mainly chatted in Russian with young Harry's parents, not knowing that Harry knew Russian. Finally, he couldn't keep back anymore and interrupted: "But Professor Auer, what about my technique? "Technique?" retorted the redoubtable professor, "Have you heard Heifetz? Have you heard Elman? THAT'S technique!" Notice how Auer cited Elman, known for his golden tone but not for any blazing velocity. The point was not just having facility and accuracy, but knowing what to DO with it, and being able to move the listener.

June 16, 2016 at 05:24 PM · Roman Kim seems to have found a very delightful niche. He is certainly playing to his strength, and I hope he will continue to do so for a long time.

June 16, 2016 at 09:11 PM · Just listened to him playing the 2nd mvt. of the Bach A minor concerto. It is in fact nice, sensitive playing. But his sound to me is over-bright and metallic. Is it him? His fiddle?* The hall? The mic-ing?

Here he is in a piece he wrote. Very nice and better sound - though still with some over-bright and metallic aspects. I'll join the controversy on that youtube thread and vote for looser hair for a more flexible, more nuanced sound, getting the individuality of the bow into play and better health for the bow. I know, however, that there have been some great players who used a rather tight bow. https://youtu.be/ye1yAMfJPA0

* I looked at a publicity bio of him which showed him playing on a beautiful-looking violin that was definitely not what I saw on a couple of his videos. The bio said that he was given use of a del Gesu. Maybe that took place at a later time.

June 17, 2016 at 10:58 PM · As a student, i find some of my character in my playing after listening to his (Roman Kim) work. His Romance in Ges: https://youtu.be/ye1yAMfJPA0 and his other romances has a serious work on breathing, tone producing, and dynamics. I think the over-bright and metallic sound is caused by the mic. The studio recording is much better for me.

June 18, 2016 at 06:04 AM · I do not think it is the mic. I listened to that link and I don't think it is necessarily a studio recording. He plays on a Giovanni Battista Zanoli violin (1750 Verona), but his sound is a little thin and surface like. Maybe he uses Eudoxas (wink) or cheap Chinese strings.

June 18, 2016 at 07:09 AM · Raphael - that's interesting re:Elman. Do you have an example of something he wasn't able to play at speed. And how fast do you mean? I'm currently learning presto from Bach g minor and am dumbfounded by the speed its commonly played at.

June 18, 2016 at 09:08 AM · well, i admit i was too excited while writing that post haha. Yeah the sound is a bit thin and surface like. Very bright when playing at lower position. But really great at high position especially at 4th string in my opinion. Maybe he wants to produce bright sound easier in high positions(?).

June 18, 2016 at 10:57 AM · k d, you're suggesting an interesting point, namely that today's "presto" is far faster than what Bach, Haydn, Beethoven, and possibly even Paganini, would have used. Reference my recent post of June 14 on discussion #28055 about Beethoven's Quartet Op 18/4 where in an 1829 edition Beethoven's designated speed for the entirety of the last movement was "Allegretto". Later editions in the 19th century started using "Allegro" and "Presto/Prestissimo" for that movement, with the results we hear today.

June 18, 2016 at 11:41 AM · Hi KD. Off-hand I'm thinking of Elman's Zigeunerweisen - something I recently performed myself and I certainly didn't come close to breaking any speed records, either. (Yet, I think that typing that piece's title is almost as hard as playing it! ;-D ) In the excellent video, "The Art of Violin", it begins by piecing together the 1st mvt. of the Mendelssohn, splicing together performances of a number of different violinists. Elman's segment was towards the end of the mvt. with the chromatic octaves. He takes his time like nobody else. BUT - whatever tempo Elman does choose, he nails the passage with complete control, solidity, and crystal clarity.

Many violinists toss off fast passages rapidly and with some flair. But if you listen carefully you realize that many notes are unclear or dropped. Roman Kim's 1st Paganini caprice is amazing - yet I can't quite make out the passages in 3rds. Heifetz said "I do NOT play faster than everyone else. But I do play clearly and distinctly."

Yet I feel bad. With some exceptions, I really don't like criticizing other musicians. I frankly envy Roman Kim's amazing facility. But when I hear someone touted here and there as the next or better than Heifetz I think "Hmmm...let me listen closely" - and I'll necessarily judge by some pretty high standards.

June 18, 2016 at 12:40 PM · Raphael - thanks, I will listen to that. I did notice that Elman's rendition of the Vivaldi (from book 5 Suzuki) was at a very moderate pace.

Trevor - will read/listen later. The evolution of performance/interpretation is indeed an interesting subject.

June 18, 2016 at 01:00 PM · As for moderate speeds: Ricci was noted for brilliancy. But his speed in the last movement of the Beethoven was, shall I say, not that fast.

June 18, 2016 at 03:42 PM ·

Heifetz did a lot of arrangements and some(?) innovation that also helped him stand out from the crowd. Roman Kim is into arrangements, composition, innovation and showmanship. He is only 24, so emotion may not be a important to him at this age.

Heifetz is no Paganini, most would never compare Heifetz to Paganini at all, I wouldn't ,but Kim is very similar to Paganini in a lot of ways. Also, comparing violinist at this level isn't doing them justice.

I hope Kim stays away from the same old same old, and works at composition and innovation, because I definitely want to hear more of his works, lots more!!!.

June 18, 2016 at 04:26 PM · For all we know Paganini may have been a pretty poor player, but we do know from recordings that Heifetz was phenomenal.

June 18, 2016 at 10:04 PM · To say "Heifetz was no Paganini" is like saying that Einstein was no Isaac Newton. When Heifetz was a boy some people with long memories said that it was impossible that Paganini could have been better than Heifetz. But as Peter said, we'll never know for sure how Pag. - or anyone before the age of recordings - played. Ricci, who admitted to be influenced by both, made the point that just to be able to play his own music, Pag. must have been amazing. He wrote his music for his own use and you can't fake, for example, double harmonics. Either you can play them or you can't. If Pag. only wrote them once as an experiment, that's one thing. But he wrote them a number of times.

Nevertheless, the standards of intonation, tone production and accuracy were not up to those that later times would be. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that if Paganini could magically be brought back to today, without the benefit of witnessing and assimilating innovations that took place in the decades since his heyday, he'd be a disappointment to knowledgeable listeners. This is not to take anything away from Paganini's great position in violin history. Later players stood on the shoulders of this and other giants. But stand, they did. And Heifetz leaped. "Jeptha in his generation as Samuel in his generation", as the old Talmudic saying goes.

Pag.'s successors such as Ernst and Vieuxtemps were thought to be amazing. Then Sarasate was said to be the first violinist who really played in tune - implying a step up from Pag. in at least that aspect. Then Wieniawski and Ysaye were thought to be monster players. Yet when young Heifetz came along it was generally acknowledged that a revolution, a quantum leap had taken place, not just another step. Instantly, all other top players were relegated to the 2nd tier. But as one documentary said about Heifetz, it cannot be the technique alone, nor the instrument, but the heart of the man himself. Last night I viewed again the excellent Heifetz DVD, "God's Fiddler" and was struck over and over again, not by his technical facility and accuracy, but by the sheer beauty of his sound and phrasing. The jaw dropped, the ears twitched - but most importantly, the heart melted.

I actually agree in certain respects that an analogy can be drawn between Roman Kim and Pag.: On one hand, Pag. was a serious musician who loved to read Beethoven quartets with friends in private. But his public concerts, besides the music that has come down to us, included pandering to the crowd with imitations of barnyard animals. Pag. even liked to wear dark blue glasses - he really was arguably the first rock star! It was a different time - and not without precedent: At the premier of the Beethoven concerto, in-between the 1st and 2nd mvts. Clement played a trick piece of his own, holding the violin upside down. But that sort of thing did not sit well with such serious musicians as Mendelssohn, Clara Schumann and Spohr.

Our own time also has different strands. There has been more and more crossover work by serious classical players. Many have also taken a page from pop stars and have come out with record covers more and more overtly sexy and provocative. At the same time, the classical establishment is still pretty conservative and while crazy glasses and dental tricks might be fun (and I wish I had Kim's chops, literally and figuratively) they won't tend to sit well with top conductors, critics and managers who are the career makers. 24 isn't all that young in this business and I truly wish Kim the best.

September 9, 2016 at 02:37 AM · Does anyone what kind of fingerboard Roman Kim uses? It seems to be fretted, I've messaged him to ask but have not heard back.

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