Soojin Han (violin)
Soojin Han was born in Korea and moved to the UK when she was two. She began the violin at the age of eight and entered the Yehudi Menuhin School before moving to the Purcell School to study with Felix Andrievsky. She studied at Oxford University and the Royal Academy of Music in London and from October 2009 joined the Kronberg Academy Further Masters Studies with Ana Chumachenco.
Soojin has performed as soloist with orchestras such as the London Symphony, Poznan Philharmonic, Tokyo Philharmonic, Seoul Philharmonic, Korean Symphony, London Soloists Chamber Orchestra, L'Ensemble Ricercata de Paris, and has given concerts throughout the UK, Europe and the Far East in venues including nearly all of the major London concert halls, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Suntory Hall, Operacity and Bunkamura Orchard Hall, Tokyo, Osaka Symphony Hall and the Sejong Arts Centre, Seoul. She has broadcast on Polish, Dutch and Korean Radio. She was awarded an Allcard Award from the Worshipful Company of Musicians 2008 and a Countess of Munster award 2008.
Soojin’s love of chamber music has taken her on several occasions to participate in Open Chamber Music at IMS Prussia Cove, Cornwall. She plays on a 1666 Antonius Stradivarius kindly provided by an anonymous benefactor.
Sholto Kynoch (piano)
Sholto Kynoch is in demand as a chamber musician and song accompanist, regularly performing with many outstanding instrumentalists and singers. Recent highlights have included performances at Wigmore Hall (with violinist Kaoru Yamada), the Berliner Konzerthaus (with soprano Olja Dakic), the Victoria Concert Hall in Singapore (with violinist Tee Khoon Tang), the St Endellion Festival, the Chichester Festivities, Cambridge Summer Music, the Perth Festival, the Brasov International Chamber Music Festival in Romania, the Chelsea Schubert Festival (with the Doric String Quartet) and a series of recitals in Sweden (with violist Ylvali Zilliacus).
Sholto is the founder and director of the Oxford Lieder Festival, where he has accompanied some fifty song recitals over the past eight years, working with singers including Kate Royal, James Gilchrist, Mark Stone, Jonathan Lemalu and Henry Herford. In 2008, he was privileged to play for Ian Partridge's "Farewell" recital.
He read Music at Worcester College, Oxford, and studied at the Royal Academy of Music and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. His teachers have included Michael Dussek, Graham Johnson, Malcolm Martineau, Ronan O'Hora and Vanessa Latarche.
Beethoven – Sonata no.3 In E♭ major
Brahms – Sonata no.1 in G major
Bach – Solo Violin Sonata in G minor
Prokofiev – Sonata no 2 in D major
Sonata no.3 in E flat major op.12 no.3 Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
Allegro con spirito
Adagio con molto espressione
Rondo: Allegro molto
The Three Sonatas for Violin and Piano op.12, written between 1797 and 1798, were dedicated to the Venetian composer Antonio Salieri. Perhaps strangely to us today, Beethoven admired Salieri so much that he was once known to refer to himself as Salieri’s pupil.
It is interesting to note that the earliest publication of these op.12 sonatas describes them as Sonatas for Harpsichord or Piano with Violin. The practice of giving musical prominence to the piano and more of a supporting role for the violin was something well established in the work of Mozart and Haydn - especially in their early duo sonatas. In these op.12 works by Beethoven, the dominance of the piano is still very evident, though in his later violin sonatas the parts taken by each instrument in the musical texture are more equally shared.
We should remember that Beethoven was himself a virtuoso pianist, and his musical language during this period is generally strongly keyboard driven. At about the time of the composition of this Sonata in E flat, he was also working on
his First Piano Concerto and the String Quartets op.18.
In the first movement, Allegro con spirito, the piano (after an opening
flourish)takes the leading role and presents the opening theme answered immediately by the violin.
The violin itself introduces the second theme. With both instruments modifying and developing these main tunes, the movement flows joyfully and effortlessly to its climax.
In the second movement Adagio, the piano (apart from the opening theme) is happy to take a largely accompanying role as the violin weaves a gorgeous lyrical melody above the accompaniment.
The final lively Rondo movement, somewhat reminiscent of Haydn, is full of buoyancy and joy as the musical ideas are shared spontaneously between the instruments.
Sonata no.1 in G major op.78 Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
Vivace non troppo
Allegro molto moderato
Composed immediately after his famous Violin Concerto, Brahms’ First Violin Sonata was written at the lakeside resort on Portschach in southern Austria in 1878-9 when he was 46 years old. It is a work of immense lyrical beauty which is a favourite of audiences and violinists alike. It seems certain that this work (sometimes known as Regensonate or Rain Sonata) was heavily influenced by earlier poetic and musical sources - none more so than by one of the composer’s own art songs - Regenlied (Rain Song).
There is also a tinge of sadness throughout this work, which may be explained by the recent and untimely death of the composer’s godson, the violinist and poet Felix Schumann. Brahms’ long attachment to the Schumann family is well documented, and his devotion to Robert Schumann’s widow, Clara, was always a major influence on his musical life. Clara is said to have burst into tears with joy on receiving the manuscript of the First Violin Sonata - even to the point of exclaiming “I wish that the last movement could accompany me to the next world.”
The first movement Vivace non troppo (Lively - but not too much) is dominated by two main themes, both initially played on the violin and later taken up by the piano. The first theme, heard at the very beginning, is accompanied by steady, solemn piano chords.
A second lyrical theme is presented by the violin above accompanying piano arpeggios.
The thematic interplay between the violin and piano is superbly handled throughout this movement.
The second movement Adagio opens with a theme for piano solo with all the characteristics of a solemn funeral march. This is in striking contrast to the momentum of the movements preceding and following it. However, once again, throughout the movement the interplay between the violin and piano is masterly, and the exquisitely peaceful ending prepares us well for the vitality of the last movement.
The Finale - Allegro molto moderato opens with a lively violin melody in dotted rhythms accompanied by bustling piano semiquavers. Is this the ‘raindrop
motif’ inspired by Brahms’ earlier song? Perhaps. Certainly, with some romantic imagination, it can easily be envisaged as a gentle flow of water or rain.
During this movement, little violin ‘comments’ are heard following melodies which are first presented on the piano. Later, a theme from the second movement reappears before this great work finally comes to a close quietly and tenderly.
Solo Violin Sonata no.1 in G minor Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Composed around 1720, Bach’s three Partitas and three Sonatas for solo violin are some of the most challenging yet rewarding works of the baroque repertoire. We know from the writing of his son, Carl Philip Emanuel Bach, that J.S.Bach had considerable mastery of the violin: (“He played the violin cleanly and penetratingly.”).
However it is not known if the Partitas and Sonatas were actually perfumed in the composer’s lifetime. They were first published in 1802, and it was performances by the celebrated virtuoso Josef Joachim which eventually brought this wonderful music to general notice.
Each of these Sonatas has four contrasted movements. The first two movements are coupled in this sonata in the form of a Prelude and Fugue. This is followed by a lyrical third movement - a stately ‘Sicilaina’. The Finale, marked Presto, is a movement of great agility and drive.
It is interesting that the second movement Fuga was later reworked by the Bach for the lute, and it was further developed by him as the basis of one of his Preludes and Fugues for organ.
There are some fine CD recordings available of this work, and also many complete sets of all ofBach’s unaccompanied violin music. Recorded by some of our most celebrated violinists, each artist brings a unique personal style to their performance, and therefore offers the listener a varied and rewarding musical experience.
Sonata no.2 in D major op.94 Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953)
Allegro con brio
In 1942, while working on the score for the wartime epic film Ivan the Terrible, Prokofiev started work on his Flute Sonata in D major - a work of immense complexity and technical difficulty even for today’s flautists. The virtuosity of the work (combined with its attractive lyricism) appealed to the violinist David Oistrakh and, in 1944, he persuaded the composer to transcribe the work for the violin.
Very different in style from the earlier First Violin Sonata, this work transcribes most beautifully for the instrument - if anything, giving the music a stature and authority somewhat lacking in the flute version. The composer Shostakovich was happy to describe this Violin Sonata as “a perfect and magnificent work”.
Like the flute work from which it was born, the sonata is full of originality with exciting rhythmic complexities. There are strong lyrical elements, but the tunes are stark - often with huge intervals in both parts. But the overall writing for both violin and piano is masterly.
The first movement opens with a gentle flowing melody which easily stays in the memory. After many flamboyant passages on the violin, and the inclusion of a folk-like secondary tune, the opening material is repeated and developed until, as the final bars are approached, the music is brought to rest in peace.
The Scherzo is nothing short of a Prokofiev master stroke! It has been described elsewhere as “a hectic perpetuum mobile.” It has an incessant drive from the very first bar and contains some of Prokofiev’s most exciting music in all his chamber works. Rampant scales and huge leaps abound in both instruments and the effect is electric!
The third movement Andante is, by contrast, a beautiful ‘song without words’. The lyrical opening is developed throughout and it has immediate appeal - not unlike the thematic style of Brahms.
The final movement Allegro con brio is a tour-de-force. It opens with a robust theme on the violin accompanied by throbbing piano chords. Later in the movement, a more serene melody is presented by the violin with long ladders of grace notes as the instrument soars high into its top register. But this ‘high serenity‘ doesn’t last for long as the pounding opening discourse is soon repeated, and this great work ends with bursts of glorious virtuosity by both instruments.