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MALCOLM MILLER attends the impressive
Wigmore Hall début
of Singaporean violinist Min Lee


Nineteen-year-old Min Lee displayed her extraordinary violinistic gifts at a scintillating début recital at London's Wigmore Hall on 2 October 2001, that featured an appealing UK première of a piece by the young American Aaron Kernis as part of a varied programme of sonatas and showpieces. Min Lee seems set to become one of the new young stars of the violin scene: remarkably she entered Yale University aged only fourteen, completing her Master's recently under the distinguished violinist Erick Friedman, a former Heifetz pupil. She is currently continuing studies at London's Guildhall School of music under David Takeno. Min Lee won the 1998 Shell/Nac and Young Artists Award in Singapore and was selected for the HSBC Youth Excellence Initiative. As a result she has recently toured major cities in Malaysia and the Far East with Gordon Back, and this Wigmore Hall début marked the start of her European appearances. It certainly provided an impressive showcase for her attractive tonal qualities and effortless technical agility, enhanced by the sweet tone of the 1704 Guarnerius filius Andrea violin she plays, thanks to her HSBC patronage. Gordon Back was throughout an excellently responsive pianist and partner, with a glowing tonal palette and compelling interpretative conviction.

The recital had a definitely French emphasis, with the first half devoted to Leclair's delightful D major sonata and Fauré's Sonata in A and the second half featuring paraphrases of French opera. Leclair, a favourite amongst violinists wishing to imbue Baroque elegance with Romantic tonal qualities, was here remarkably focused and clean, the polyphonic textures always lucid, the expressive line of the Sarabande unfolding resonantly and the final Tambourin taken at a hectic pace that sparkled. It offered a suitably brilliant warm up for the more weighty Fauré Sonata, which received a mature and expressive account, perhaps lacking slightly in passion and drama, though full of detail and translucent beauty of tone. One could admire Min Lee's technical facility, and her silvery tone in the higher registers, complemented by a warm glow in the lower range. Gordon Back generated the necessary expressive impetus, responsively impelling the dialogues and articulating nuances of harmony and line, notably in the beguiling finale. The Scherzo's syncopated exuberance was exciting. There is certainly room to develop a more expressive emotional range, but this was a very impressive account with moments of beauty and depth.

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Copyright © 27 October 2001 Malcolm Miller, London, UK




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