The last hundred years of musical performance have cultivated those interpreters who play at the edge of their techniques; lesser artists do not become famous because they refuse to take the risk. Violinist Nam Yun Kim is at the crossroads, deciding which road to travel.
In her Terrace Theater recital Saturday night, Kim revealed greaterartistry when playing a difficult piece she had memorized than in less demanding repertoire where she used a musical score.
Ravel's "Tzigane" typifies her best. The weird sounds, double stops and simultaneous pizzicato with arco bowing have rarely been played better. Not only was her technique in perfect order, her interpretation offered something deep and personal.
However, her renditions of Mozart's Sonata No. 15 in B Flat, K. 454, and Franck's A Major Sonata were less spectacular. One cannot call these average or proletarian performances because her style and intonation are so good most violinists would swoon with envy. But today's audiences want something deeper.
In more cautious pieces where technique is not so obvious, Kim's performances were superb. Mozart's E Major Adagio, K. 261, was impeccable. So was her first encore, Kreisler's "Schoen Rosmarin." The second encore, Heifetz's arrangement of Dinicu's "Hora Staccato," brought down the house.