Young Gi Kim's violin recital at Seoul Arts Center Recital Hall, titled “Deutsche Romantik,” was a portrait of a genuine and kind-hearted artist who showed a great love for great music. The programme of Schubert, Schumann and Richard Strauss was a structurally and atmospherically well-considered one, starting with warm and beautiful sentiments (Schubert), growing into drastically different moods of turbulence and suffering (Schumann), finally concluding with heroic fullness of emotions (Strauss). Good programming is the beginning of a good recital, as the chemistry between the compositions performed is crucial.

Mr Kim’s fundamental approach to the violin, and to music, is that of earnestness and elegance. There is an absence of empty showmanship, or of any unnecessary gesture in music making, which allowed the listeners to fully experience the essence of Young Gi Kim the musician. Overall, his concert was impressive and satisfying in its structural solidity, tonal warmth and emotional sincerity.

The first selection of the evening was Schubert’s Violin Sonata in A major, D.574. In the first movement Allegro moderato, the sudden nuanced change of moods within the underlying, optimism — almost naïvely happy — and simplicity was well felt and rendered. It was a pleasure to witness this honesty of interpretation. However, a little more charm and attractiveness would have been even more wonderful in phrasing and rubati. The second movement, Scherzo Presto, was wanting in a more gutsy directness. After this, the Andantino felt a little too fast, probably due to the dutiful interpretation of the tempo marking Andantino; yes, Andantino could be minutely faster than just Andante, but there is no premeditated tempo of Andantino. All tempos must be decided based upon how the music flows, and not upon any other perceived notion. The last movement Allegro vivace needed a little more agility than was employed

In the following Schumann and Strauss sonatas, the gradual building of expression and atmosphere was exciting.  Schumann’s instruction for the first movement, Mit leidenschaftlichem Ausdruck (“with passionate expression”) holds true; Mr Kim’s disciplined classical self-restraint and gentlemanly warmth had been a virtue and a pleasure throughout the concert, but at times here, more passionate expression was missed.

The pianist of the evening, Mr Kyung Shik Min, showed a wide range of pianism that matched and complemented the classical style of Mr Kim in musicianship and virtuosity.  The two musicians conversed harmoniously with each other, in great ensemble. In point of fact, the pianist was very much together with and extremely accommodating to the violinist throughout the concert, but was sometimes too passive. In a way like Mr Kim, Mr Min also shied away from expressing the music more fully. It is a virtue not to offend, not to overstep the musical partner, but it is a more satisfying experience to see the pianist standing as an equal, who can even set the tone and atmosphere of the whole musical backbone.

Just a little comment on attire. In my opinion, it is always better for men to wear jackets on stage if they want to create a serious atmosphere. But this was an enjoyable recital, blessed by beautifully interpreted Romantic masterpieces.