Though I know at this writing who the six laureates are and
how they'll be awarded at the Scottish Rite Cathedral Auditorium Sunday
afternoon, my view of the three Saturday concerto performances was arrived at
prior to the jurors.' As
was the case on Friday, each finalist was joined by the ISO under the direction
of Joel Smirnoff -- at the Circle Theatre.
Saturday's concert gave us a parade of concerto chestnuts
with which to discern playing excellence: first Ji Young Lim playing the Brahms
Violin Concerto in D, Op. 77; then Yoo Jin Jang and the Tchaikovsky Violin
Concerto in D, Op. 35; and finally the Sibelius Violin Concerto in D Minor, Op.
47 as played by Dami Kim.
Unequivocally the best playing by far that evening was by
Yoo Jin Jang performing the Tchaikovsky. Her tonal control was near perfect
throughout the three movements--unlike Ji Yoon Lee's on Friday of the same work. Jang possessed none
of the defects of bowing, and her staccato work in the third movement was
spectacular, and without a single slip. On any held note Jang eased into her
characteristic vibrato, making her reading of this work strongly reminiscent of
Hilary Hahn's CD recording (and nobody does it better than Hilary). I thought it was
the best playing in the competition.
Lim's reading of the Brahms' Concerto (heard first), though
technically secure and musically convincing, displayed more tonal difficulties consistent
with most of the IVCI participants: an uneven
vibrato, occasional wobbliness, an intonation problem in the Joachim cadenza
she used in the first movement. We were, however, salved by the lovely
oboe solo ISO's principal Jennifer Christian gave us opening the slow movement. Lim seemed to
control her tonal delivery better in the third movement. As for a perfect vibrato, she was
capable; she just often failed to deliver it.
Dami Kim started her Sibelius Concerto beautifully--right on
the mark, but began to wobble with excess when switching to her lower note
the 2nd movement she started a little wide, while in the finale her tone was
variable, going from white to wobbly.
At some point, it might be of great interest to the IVCI
cognoscenti as to the criteria a given juror uses on which he/she bases his/her
judgment of a given participant and the resultant assigning of a rating number
from 1 to 25 -- perhaps better done in a non-competition year when we're not so
swept up in the event. Sept 20; Hilbert