The next instalment of Les Sommets Musicaux festival, featuring two exceptional up-and-coming young soloists, was a beautifully balanced showcase for some of the best violin and pianos duos in the repertoire. Bomsori Kim and Jean-Paul Gasparian proved to be an ideal coupling of natural musicality and effortless technique.

Bomsori Kim and Jean-Paul Gasparian © Sommets Musicaux
Bomsori Kim and Jean-Paul Gasparian
© Sommets Musicaux

Their performance of Beethoven's Violin Sonata no. 5 in F major, commonly known as the Spring Sonata, was fresh and alive from the first bar. This most popular of the composer's ten works in this form, it straddles the classical–Romantic divide with charm and rich thematic material. Beethoven also creates a partnership of equals, which Kim and Gasparian certainly understood in their interpretation. The opening movement was expansive and relaxed, the slow movement delightfully will-o'-the-wisp, the tiny rhythmically cheeky Scherzo was as pert as it should be and the finale exuded warmth and generosity of spirit. In short, it was a delightful account of a box of delights.

Brahms' final violin sonata (D minor) is his most intense and cogent of the three. Written during a happy summertime retreat, which produced four of his greatest chamber works, the composer held it back for two years before it was successfully premiered by Jenő Hubay in 1886. It is a work that, with its powerful emotions, cannot fail to draw in the listener.

This duo had full measure of its technical challenges and interpretative nooks and crannies. In the highly romantic opening movement, both achieved an ideal combination of strength and warmth. The slow second movement is whimsical and nostalgic in mood, perfectly projected here, especially by Kim, who demonstrated her pliable and clean tone. The Scherzo was suitably fiery, while the pyrotechnics continued into the finale. This movement is the emotional core of the work, demanding another notch of passion and technique, which Kim and Gasparian took in their stride and then some.

Bomsori Kim © Sommets Musicaux
Bomsori Kim
© Sommets Musicaux

The Nocturne and Tarantella by Karol Szymanowski was written in 1915, immediately preceding the composer's lustrous First Violin Concerto. These works have a lot in common in their heady mix of exoticism and impressionism. The trademark high wire violin writing in the Nocturne was beautifully delivered by Kim and overall she created an imaginative world of beautiful and seductive sounds. In the Tarantella, Szymanowski stretches both artists to the limit with virtuosic writing; Kim and Gasparian responded with an appropriately abandoned, but controlled display of youthful energy. A splendidly exciting last act to an entertaining and accomplished recital. 

This performance was reviewed from the Sommets Musicaux video stream

Watch the video here