Billed as Young Uck Kim and Friends, the renowned young violinist's concert Sunday at the National Institutes of Health's Masur Auditorium featured chamber works for a variety of instrumental combinations. The connecting thread of the afternoon was Kim himself, his wonderful command of his instrument and his great capacity to enhance virtually any piece of music.
Mozart's Duo for Violin and Viola, K. 424, opened the concert. Joined by Nabuko Imai, Kim delivered sparkling ornaments in the adagio and created a seamless, flowing melodic line throughout. Both artists glided over the runs of the final andante, making the score sound effortless.
Substituted for a Beethoven sonata, Faur'e's A major Sonata for Violin and Piano (an early work from 1876) offered Kim and accompanist Nadine Barrett ample room to explore the purely lyrical side of the repertoire. The first movement's bright, vivid content, filled with emotional appeal, came off very well. The two matched their pace initially, but in the second meditative movement a few holes opened up in their collaboration. Overall, the rhapsodic sonata was treated with rewarding attention to detail.
Violinist, violist and pianist picked up cellist Peter Wiley for Brahms' Piano Quartet, Op. 60. Written in two different stages of Brahms' development, the quartet dwells on the dark side. The restless opening phrase emerged with confident, decisive playing. Likewise, the scherzo showed tight ensemble work underpinned by remarkable energy. The group's cohesiveness and single-mindedness are all the more noteworthy when one realizes that this is the musicians' first season together as a quartet.