Shea-Kim Duo shows strong chemistry in The Sound and The Fury
The Sound and the Fury
Brenan Shea, violin; Yerin Kim, piano.
Antonin DVOŘÁK: Mazurek, Op. 49 (B.89)
Edvard GRIEG: Sonata for piano and violin No. 3 in C minor, Op.45
Leoš JANÁČEK: Sonata for violin and piano
Blue Griffin Recording (BGR593)
Release date: November 12, 2021

Giorgio Koukl | 13 JAN 2022

The chemistry found in musical duos, whether born spontaneously or due to a thousand hours spent in rehearsal, can be far more natural when a profound sentimental relation is present between the two partners. So it was in the Vronsky and Babin piano duo, as it is in Labeque or Pekinel sisters. From the very first notes of their CD, The Sound and the Fury, I noticed this rare synergy between the couple Brenan Shea and Yerin Kim.

Shea-Kim Duo shows strong chemistry in The Sound and The Fury

CD cover art

They start their musical journey with a well-known public pleaser by Antonín Dvořák called Mazurek in E-minor, Op.49. Completed February 15, 1879, the editor Simrock commissioned it after the tremendous success of the Slavonic Dances. It is dedicated to Pablo de Sarasate. During the same year, the composer arranged the original version for violin and orchestra in which this music is typically performed today.

That this duo is well capable of delivering very passionate playing becomes instantly clear while listening to them play the Violin Sonata No. 3 of Edward Grieg (1843 – 1907). Its three movements marked “Allegro molto ed appassionato,” “Allegretto espressivo alla romanza,” and “Allegro most animato.” Despite the tremendous doubts of Edward Grieg about his capacities of composing larger works, versus the usual miniatures he primarily produced until then, this sonata is extremely well-conceived. It allows the violinist to be a true partner to the pianist, who is no more in a role of a mere accompanist. The fact that the composer was, together with violinist Adolf Brodski involved in the first public presentation of his work (Leipzig, December 10, 1889) is undoubtedly a good indicator of his pianistic abilities.

Ms. Kim displays noesis very well. Technically at a very high level, she never misses her husband’s slightest rubato. Especially in the perlato passages of the third movement, she is really impressive. Their overall concept of the sonata, while not much different from the existing recordings, is that of solid craftsmanship, potent rendering of the fortissimo, and very convincing treatment of the slow movement. Mr. Shea has a quite rare capacity for perfect intonation, even in the most awkward passages. He is a born musician.

The last work chosen for this disc is that of the only surviving Violin Sonata by Leoš Janáček (1854-1928).

There might still be some chance to find the two more violin sonatas written in Dresden and in Vienna around 1880, which the composer declared as “lost.” But knowing the habit of Janáček to destroy his own works because he considered them “not worthy.” Even with works providentially saved by some of his pupils and proved to be masterworks, maybe this late sonata is not the only one. The gestation of this composition with its four movements (“Con moto,” “Ballada,” “Allegretto,” “Adagio”) was a typical one for Janáček. Between single movements being ready but then completely changed, and versions refused by violinists who considered the music “unplayable,” some ten years passed before the definitive version emerged.

Once again, the strong side of the Shea and Kim duo emerges here.

The energy, strong feeling of rhythm, and some genuinely well-played parts are a nice piece of musical craftsmanship, well worth being attentive for future recordings of this duo.


Shea-Kim Duo website:

Giorgio Koukl (photo: Chiara Solari)

Giorgio Koukl is a Czech-born pianist/harpsichordist and composer who resides in Lugano, Switzerland. Among his many recordings are the complete solo piano works and complete piano concertos of Bohuslav Martinů on the Naxos label. He has also recorded the piano music of Tansman, Lutosławski, Kapralova, and A. Tcherepnin, amongst others, for the Grand Piano label. Koukl has most recently completed recording a second volume of the complete solo piano music of Polish composer Alfons Szczerbinski.
(photo: Chiara Solari)


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