David Kim: On Letting Go and Being Yourself
by Dr. Noa Kageyama
"...violinist David Kim has been concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra since 1999, and is one of the most genuine, kind, and open people you’ll ever meet." [read more]
"Much burden fell on concertmaster David Kim, who carried a number of movements with style and buoyancy. Has he ever played better?" (The Philadelphia Orchestra, Brandenburg Concerti 1-4, violin solos)
- David Patrick Stearns, The Philadelphia Inquirer, 4/20/13
Bruch Violin Concerto in G minor, Brevard Philharmonic, Donald Portnoy conducting
Without a doubt the Bruch concerto was the highlight of the afternoon. Bruch finished composing the concerto in 1866, and then revised it according to the advice of violinist Joseph Joachim who first performed it in 1867. Joachim later highly praised the work, calling it "the richest and most enchanting" of the nineteenth century's four great violin concerti. It has a sort of Mendelssohnian tunefulness coupled with virtuosic demands, all bundled within a three-movement concerto form that deviates from formal conventions in intriguing ways.
Kim is a brilliant performer with a great understanding of stylistic nuance. He plays with an elegant economy of motion, and never resorts to the histrionics of large gestures seen so frequently on stage. In fact, I believe he inspired the best playing of the afternoon from the orchestra that appeared to be actively listening to his tempi, dynamics, and articulations. Portnoy kept the balance between the soloist and orchestra finely monitored so that all could be clearly heard. The excitement generated from this performance brought whoops of approbation and a standing ovation.
- Laura McDowell, Classical Voice of North Carolina, 9/23/2012
Saint-Saens Violin Concerto No. 3 Philadelphia Orchestra, Charles Dutoit conducting:
"...concertmaster David Kim, who played one of his best-ever performances in Saint-Saens' Violin Concerto No. 3.
The younger Kim showed his Juilliard School roots readily with an aggressive vibrato and businesslike interpretive manner that's still sometimes apparent in his old concerto repertoire. However, his Saint-Saens performance was state-of-the-art Kim with the richer tone quality he's developed since becoming Philadelphia Orchestra concertmaster some 12 years ago, and his way of letting the music happen, playing with a technical comfort that naturally releases the music's emotional content. At times, Kim seemed to be in a parallel time zone that used any given tempo as a perimeter for flexible phrasing that can momentarily convince you this is one of the great concertos."
-David Patrick Stearns, The Philadelphia Inquirer, 5/7/2012
Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto in D major, Rhode Island Philharmonic, Larry Rachleff conducting:
"...the big crowd-pleaser came after intermission, a wonderfully heartfelt performance of the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with David Kim as soloist. If Kim's name sounds familiar, that's because he is something of an honorary Rhode Islander who has played here often.
For 20 years he ran the Kingston Chamber Music Festival on the URI campus, and has appeared at the Newport Music Festival. But his day job is as concertmaster of the famed Philadelphia Orchestra.
The Kim-Rachleff approach to this warhorse of a concerto was to play down the virtuosity, at least in the opening two movements, and play up its grace and elegance. Kim, whose playing was so sweet and soulful, took his time with the opening movement, caressing each phrase. The same was true of the melting slow movement.
But there were moments when Kim could show off his chops, such as the dramatic first-movement cadenza, where he nailed the high-pitched harmonics and tossed off double stops. And there was the sizzling finale, taken at a blistering pace. But somehow Kim's playing was more about musicianship than show."
-Channing Gray, Providence Journal (Rhode Island), 4/17/11
Metamorphosen; The Philadelphia Orchestra, Wolfgang Sawallisch conducting
“’Metamorphosen’ always glows, but here it glowed with intensity, and the concertmaster’s superb, delicate solos were gold on gold.”
-Paul Griffiths, The New York Times, 4/30/1999
Swan Lake, Op. 20; The Philadelphia Orchestra, Wolfgang Sawallisch conducting
“Technically secure, with a solid and silvery tone, Kim made a convincing case that the orchestra has finally hired a lead fiddler who can do the job- and with élan. His portamentos- those quick slides between notes that sweep along the heart- were clean and tasteful. At times his playing rose to the level of extraordinary, pointing to great things for him and this orchestra.”
-Peter Dobrin, The Philadelphia Inquirer, 1/31/2000
Bruch Scottish Fantasy, Op. 46; The Philadelphia Orchestra, Carlos Kalmar conducting
“…Kim proved himself a masterly soloist with something to say. … The violinist has a robust sound that sings. He knows how to be expansive without distortion of sound. Above all, Kim has an admirable expressive sense that is neither overblown nor underinvolved.”
-Peter Dobrin, The Philadelphia Inquirer, 7/5/2000
Mozart Violin Concerto No. 4 in D Major; Albany Symphony Orchestra, David Alan Miller conducting
“…an exciting and immaculate performance… Mozart on the fiddle doesn’t get any better than this. … The violinist has a beautiful technique- his bow and fingers are lightning quick. His tone is gorgeous and his intonation is just perfect. Beyond that, though, Kim plays with intensity and urgency which, while never overstated, make for lovely listening. His playing throughout the opening movement was musical and confident. His first movement cadenza (and the others which came later) was dazzling in terms of both technique and style. Kim’s tone had a silvery sweetness in the slow movement and he gave that section as perfect a reading as one could ask for. In the third movement he played with passion and sweetness in all the right places and when he went for the big lower string sound it was awesome.”
-Bill Rice, The Daily Gazette (Albany, NY), 9/15/2000
Glazunov Violin Concerto in A minor, Op. 82; The Philadelphia Orchestra, Wolfgang Sawallisch conducting
“Concertmaster David Kim… came up with a performance that could have stood shoulder to shoulder with many of today’s international headliners. The technical demands were no issue, and the violinist had a convincing point of view of the work as a close relative to Elgar or even Brahms. Kim has a luscious tone, which, especially in the beginning moments, glowed with old-school warmth.”
-Peter Dobrin, The Philadelphia Inquirer, 2/15/2003
Brahms Violin Concerto; Fairfax Symphony Orchestra, William Hudson conducting
“The highlight of the all-Brahms program was a melodious, musicianly interpretation of the Violin Concerto, with Philadelphia Orchestra concertmaster David Kim as soloist. The old canard about this work -- no one is quite sure who said it first -- is that ‘it was written not for the violin but against it.’ Brahms, a pianist, derived virtuoso passages from his musical materials, so technically difficult sections do not always lie well on the violin. But you would never know it from Kim's understated virtuosity. Double-stops were as clear as single notes; single notes resonated equally in first position and eighth. In the first-movement cadenza, Kim was practically playful, though playfulness is a word rarely associated with this concerto.”
-Mark Estren, Washington Post, 1/23/2006
“[David Kim] and the orchestra played divinely… an amazing and mesmerizing experience.”
-Bev Cosham, allartsreview4u.com, 2/1/2006
Bruch Scottish Fantasy, Op. 46; The Philadelphia Orchestra, Vladimir Jurowski conducting
“Kim played this justly popular work in what has become an ever rarer style in which technical prowess is never exalted above the measure of the music, itself. Rather than call attention to itself for its speed, agility and brilliance, technique is employed only as the means by which the end result of musical expression and artistic interpretation is delineated to the audience.
Kim caught the refined elegance of the first movement through lyrical phrasing, a natural rhythmic pulse, and purity of pitch even in the highest registers and softest dynamics. He conjured up the rustic vibrance of the second movement without sacrificing the sweetness of tone that has become his hallmark here in Philadelphia, never failing to project the solo violin line through the full orchestral texture but via focused intensity rather than overblown volume. He proffered the reflective lyricism of the third movement and then swept through the finale with a dark-hued, twany tone and compelling bravura. The tumultuous ovation that greeted his performance testified to both the esteem and affection with which he is held by local audiences.”
-Michael Caruso, Chestnut Hill Local (Philadelphia, PA), 2/8/2007
Massenet - Meditation from "Thais," Sarasate - "Carmen Fantasy," Kreisler - "Caprice Viennoise;" Roanoke Symphony Orchestra, David Wiley conductingDavid Kim lived up to his advance billing.As befits someone whose main gig is as an orchestral player, he does without the flashy moves and mannerisms of some star solo violinists. But where it counts, he delivered Monday night. His version of the "Meditation" from Jules Massenet's opera "Thais" was sweetly emotional, with a gorgeous warmth and lyricism.
After the RSO did Brahms' Hungarian Dance No. 5, Kim returned with a ripely romantic reading of Pablo Sarasate's "Carmen Fantasy." Conceived as a hit parade of tunes from Bizet's opera Carmen, this piece is one of the best-known 19th-century showpieces for violin. Kim's luscious tone and masterful technique got another standing ovation. He rewarded the crowd with an encore, which turned out to be Fritz Kreisler's soupy yet popular "Caprice Viennois," earning yet another standing ovation and cheers from the happy audience.
-Seth Williamson, The Roanoke Times (Virginia), 10/17/07