Violin virtuoso Kyung Wha Chung bewitches with Brahms

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Sir Antonio Pappano leads Kyung Wha Chung and the Santa Cecilia orchestra
Sir Antonio Pappano leads Kyung Wha Chung and the Santa Cecilia orchestra
By Andrea Bolitho
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The 'unstoppable maestro' Sir Antonio Pappano conducts Brahms' challenging and emotional violin concerto in Rome, featuring the legendary South Korean violinist Kyung Wha Chung.

She's one of the finest violinists of her generation, South Korea's Kyung Wha Chung performs Brahms' powerful and challenging violin concerto with the one of the world's most-sought after conductors, Sir Antonio Pappano.

Dubbed the 'unstoppable maestro' for his formidable energy, he is music director at the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia of Rome, as well as music director at The Royal Opera in London.

Kyung Wha Chung is a prolific recording artist, her dazzling and probing artistry has made her a much-acclaimed performer throughout her 40-year career. She is known for her passion, her musicality, and the intense excitement that she brings to her performances. The concerto in Rome was part of a series of concerts to celebrate her 70th birthday this year.

She says the stage is where she feels at home: "That's my space, I feel I belong there and I can say anything that's in my soul because music is without words - passion, anger, sadness, you can do it on the violin and it goes direct to people's hearts and souls. It makes you cry in sorrow and it makes you cry in joy."

'A life dedicated to music'

Mr Pappano pays tribute to her artistry: "This is a life that's been dedicated to music so her sound is one of all her experience, all the moments that she's been on stage, that's she's practiced, that she's been together with other musicians."

In 2005 Kyung Wha Chung injured her left index finger but five years later she made an astonishing comeback, something she attributes to painstakingly learning to play the violin in her head. She explains: "This was a blessing in disguise... I started to work things out in my head... the music is continuously going - the fingering the bowing, the phrasing, the colours, so I am working all the time. When I was young I could not do that without the violin."

Final concerto movement 'so Hungarian'

Brahms collaborated on the concerto with violinist Joseph Joachim - and paid tribute to his friend's Hungarian roots with the Hungarian-themed final movement.

Kyung Wha Chung explains: "His last movement is gypsy, zinga, so Hungarian and so I thought I have to really bring the Hungarian flavour in the last movement. When I discussed this with Pappano he got it immediately and his eyes just lit up and the way he just lived it and I just have to put the icing on the cake."

Kyung Wha’s new duo CD "Beau soir" will be released on the 23rd

* Sir Antonio Pappano and Kyung Wha Chung appear courtesy of Warner Classics.

Journalist • Andrea Bolitho

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