This was Kyung-Wha Chung's first recording, made when she was 22, just after her sensational London debut in the Tchaikovsky Concerto with the same orchestra and conductor. It is splendid. Only a young, radiantly talented player could make these two tired warhorses sound so fresh and vital; only a consummately masterful one could sail through their daunting technical difficulties with such easy virtuosity and perfection. Her tone is flawlessly beautiful, varied in color and inflection; she puts her technical resources entirely at the service of the music, giving every note meaning and honestly felt expression without exaggeration or sentimentality. The Tchaikovsky has charm, humor, sparkle; the slow movement is dreamy, wistful, and unmuted but subdued and inward. The Sibelius is dark and bleak but full-blooded, passionate, and intense. The orchestra sounds and plays better in the Sibelius.
In 2015 the Berliner Philharmoniker dedicated an evening of their renowned Easter Festival in Baden-Baden to one of the most famous and beloved of German composers, Ludwig van Beethoven. Together with Bernard Haitink, a universally acclaimed authority on the works of that composer, they performed Beethoven’s exquisite expression of nature, his Symphony No. 6, the “Pastoral”. They were joined for Beethoven’s Violin Concerto by Isabelle Faust, whose interpretation of the work has enjoyed widespread acclaim.