Saturday, September 20, 2014

CrackCritic's Indianapolis Violin Competition Results

1: Tessa Lark
2: Dami Kim
3: Jinjoo Cho
4. TIE: Ji-Yoon Lee Ji-Young Lim, Yoo-Jin Jang

Zwilich prize: Suyeon Kang or Stephen Waarts.

CrackCritic’s Ideal Final: (in no order) based on the first and second round. This would have been an intriguing, engaging and authentic final. But hey, the sun'll come out tomorrow. 

Suyeon Kang
Stephen Waarts
Tessa Lark
Jinjoo Cho
Nadir Khashimov 
Richard Lin

Friday, September 19, 2014

Classical Oval Part II

from Thursday evening, September 18, 2014

Ji-Young Lim    Mozart 4

Her Allegro began clearly and brightly, but became labored and unfocused by the end of the exposition. The development was uncompelling, though she led the orchestra quite well. Generally all was undifferentiated; a model of accuracy, if without personality. The cadenza was calculated and careful, the ending harsh.
Her slow movement was reedy, shapeless, lacking in transparency though well controlled. Her phrases ran no more than ten notes at a time.
In the Rondeau, she had a certain upbeat mannerism; sunny, yet without variety. She has a nice profile in front of the orchestra, although she managed to forget about the winds, it seemed. There were parts in this movement that would make for great Muzak in upscale Midwestern sushi restaurants. Her cadenzas were admirably clear, but she has no sense of development, of the path of music. 

Yoo Jin Jang    Mozart 4

Her first movement was refreshing and mature musically, with breathing, phrasing, though not as tonally progressive as a soloist with orchestra should be. She had some expression in the development, but then tuned out and lost the ability to play in the center of the orchestra’s pitch. Her cadenza could have had rather more imagination and fantasy.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Classical Oval Part 1

Tessa Lark


She led the orchestra with authority, a musician most effortlessly natural.
Her first movement Adagio was slightly overplayed but the rest of her first movement was hale, healthy and spot-on, if not the freest and most openly expressive we have heard her play. She impressed by her irreproachable cleanliness and confidence. Her original cadenza was charming and brief. Her second movement was lyrical, vocal, a beautiful esquisse not quite exquisite. Her Rondo was very good, a slightly restrained performance with moments of gleam that this listener suspects she is holding in check in light of the present situation.

JinJoo Cho


JinJoo Cho’s sound is sweet, but not as delicate as her intentions. Once the Allegro started, she accented every quarter with the same emphasis, perhaps to hide her discomfort with this movement, though she marshaled and shone in the recap. Although her intonation suffered occasionally, there were not too many mishaps, and a small memory slip was handled with grace.

Monday, September 15, 2014


Posted at 10:14 PM EST


CrackCritic’s Indianapolis Final 6: in no order whatsoever

Ji-Won Song
Stephen Waarts
Jinjoo Cho
Suyeon Kang
Tessa Lark
Kristi Gyezi

Special mention:

Ayana Tsuji for a most excellent Beethoven 6.


Christine Lim
Monday, September 15, 10 PM

As endearing as Ms. Lim's persona is, one can’t deny that her sound is undersized, despite her obvious zeal for the music. Her final movement of Beethoven sonata No. 8 was a most pleasant and charming uptempo dance, and her first two movements were quite nice. Her Saint-Säens sonata was engaging, if not always exact, and a welcome new piece on the Contest Block, as was her delightful and stylish Caprice Basque.


Monday September 15th, 2014, early evening

Dami Kim

Another impressively technically accomplished violinist was Dami Kim, whose repertoire selections did not always show her strengths. Ill-advised was the Schumann D minor - a most unforgiving, methane-filled work that can seem eternal in any hands. In her Beethoven sonata No. 3, second movement, she managed to spin some beautiful long lines.
Her Zwilich was contained and never quite got off the ground.

In Sarasate’s Carmen fantasy, though spirited, she often altered the opera’s rhythm to suit her own technical comfort. If she is going to play a warhorse showpiece arrangement with little knowledge of the original, she needs to have more accuracy.


Indianapolis Violin Competition: Half the Last Lap (THIS AFTERNOON)

Monday September 15th 2014. AFTERNOON

Suyeon Kang

As performers there are times when the gods smile down on us. If Suyeon Kang’s Beethoven No. 7 this afternoon was disjunct from the pianist, her Zwilich Fantasy was the most convincing and brilliant thus far. Empowered by her commissioned piece performance, this listener was then entirely overwhelmed by her Prokofiev F minor sonata. Her Waxman “Carmen” was excellent, if not entirely consistent, but one could feel throughout the warmth of the audience towards this unassuming young woman with such a great emotional range. Spectacular.

Ji-Won Song

Ms. Song deserves only the highest respect as an instrumentalist. Honorable and excellent in execution was her Beethoven No. 7, with good ensemble. Her interpretation was facile, correct, appropriate, and not significant.
Her Ysäye No. 6 was quite clean, vibrant and impressive, although lacking in dynamics and panache. Valiant and over-emphatic was her Zwilich, though well-played.

Ach, the Brahms – her best playing and yet not so. Her tone was throbbing and her vibrato sometimes not. This was unconvincing due to a lack of direction other than vertical slashes, though there were some great moments.


Indianapolis 3rd Lap: SUNDAY

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Ji Young Lim

Ji Young Lim offered a vigorous, almost testosterone-fueled recital.
Her Beethoven No. 3 first movement was somewhat crispy, due to incessant vertical attacks and gestures. Her second resembled a foghorn unneeded on an overbright day. Commendable was her courage to dare recklessness in the last. There was some suppleness apparent in the Zwilich, Brahms and the Saint-Säens, but this listener would have appreciated more sensitivity throughout.

Kristi Gyezi

Mr. Gyezi ‘s dedication to the seriousness of his artistry is most admirable, yet some might consider such weight to be an impediment. His Beethoven No. 10 first movement began straitlaced and workaday, but a dignified development led to him finding his voice: a dusky tone in the recap. His second movement was honest, sensitive and sung, yet in the last, his most moderate tempo made it wistfully tepid.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

CrackCritic Reviews Indianapolis! 2nd Quarter

These performances are from the second day: Saturday, September 13, 2014. 

Jinjoo Cho
Jinjoo Cho’s first Beethoven Sonata pleased by its smiling and tender sensitivity, never forced, whose personable thoughtfulness enthralled the audience. Her Zwilich was warm with thrilling sound, only very occasionally over-impassioned.
In the Prokofiev F minor, her first movement had a compelling and atmospheric sound, appropriately morose. Her second and last movements, however, suffered from a kindness, smoothness even, that was lacking in the violent authority needed for these pillars of wartime writing.
Waxman’s Carmen, curiously, did not quite match the quality of the opening of her recital.

Stephen Kim
A confident player, one cannot fault Mr. Kim for tending towards the overly so in his Beethoven Sonata No. 7. To his disadvantage, every forte down bow was begun from above the string - Beethoven occasionally writes ‘marcato’, but not constantly. In Mr. Kim’s accompanying figures, he was not as attuned as he could have been to his partner.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

CrackCritic Reviews Indianapolis Violin Competition!

Although it was not possible for CC to hear every part of the 1st round, he did hear some of everyone and feels there were quite a few casualties, especially one. On that, CC will expound a few theories once the contest is over.

He is listening and watching the semifinal in its entirety. Commentary on each contestant is limited due to space. 

Semi-final round, first quarter of 16, Friday, September 12, 2014

Nancy Zhou

The first contestant in this round,  Nancy Zhou, played with consistent tone and generally good intonation.  After opening with a dry, run-of-the-mill Beethoven 4th Sonata, her Strauss Sonata suffered from her refusal (perhaps inability) to interact with her pianist.  Her Zwilich and Ysaye solo works underscored her not few technical accomplishments, yet we anticipate a greater depth of musical understanding in her career.

Yu-Chien Tseng

CrackCritic thinks it is unfair to ask of young players in international competitions to play the Classical repertoire.
This applicant’s Beethoven Sonata # 8 was at best, dutiful, and he was playing from a questionable edition.