Back To Top

[Herald Review] ‘Lifetime companions’ grace stage with complete Brahms sonatas

INCHEON -- Violinist Chung Kyung-wha and pianist Kevin Kenner, who call each other “lifetime companion,” presented the complete Brahms violin sonatas on Thursday at Art Center Incheon.

The duo performed the German composer-pianist’s Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 1 in G major, “Regen,” Op. 78; Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 2 in A major, “Thun,” Op. 100; and Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 3 in D minor, Op. 108.

Violinist Chung Kyung-wha (left) and pianist Kevin Kenner (Warner Classics)
Violinist Chung Kyung-wha (left) and pianist Kevin Kenner (Warner Classics)

The first sonata, often referred to as the “Rain” sonata -- the third movement derives from the composer’s song “Regenlied” (Rain Song) -- was delivered with the exceptional sounds of Chung’s violin.

The 71-year-old virtuoso, who made a comeback in 2010 after suffering from a finger injury, plays the Guarneri del Gesu dating from 1734, one of the finest violins in the world.

In the hands of the powerhouse violinist, the instrument created soft, delicate sounds, matching the warm, romantic mood of the piece inspired by the composer’s trip to Italy in the spring of 1878.

In the second sonata, Chung and Kenner presented a harmonious conversation between the piano and the violin.

The third sonata, a passionate, expressive piece that was especially loved by Clara Schumann, wrapped up the evening with its powerful fourth movement.

If the violin had been a scene maker for the previous two sonatas, the piano dominated the third sonata. The Florida-based pianist’s emotion-laden yet moderated piano performance backed the melodies of the violin.

The program was followed by an encore performance of the second and third movements from Schubert’s Violin Sonata No. 1 D major, D. 384.

Chung shone brightly with her stage manners. When applause mistakenly broke out after the second movement, Chung cheerfully welcomed it. Throughout the presentation, she warmly greeted the audience, even making jokes.

The venue was not full, perhaps because the recital took place on a Thursday night at Art Center Incheon, a 90-minute drive from central Seoul. But audience members were enthusiastic, giving a standing ovation.

Chung and Kenner have performed together around the world since 2011, when Chung invited Kenner to perform with her at the Great Mountains Music Festival in Gangwon Province, now known as Music in PyeongChang.

After the second leg of the recital series in Chuncheon, Gangwon Province, on Sunday, the third and last recital will take place at Gumi Art Center in the southeastern city of Gumi, North Gyeongsang Province, on Friday.

By Im Eun-byel (