Composers: Walton, Hartmann, Bartók
Performers: Fabiola Kim v, Münchner Symphoniker/Kevin John Edusei
Catalogue Number: Solo musica SM308

The year 1939 saw growing turbulence in Europe erupt into the Second World War. It is the incendiary atmosphere of this pivotal year that Fabiola Kim explores in her ambitious debut album with the Münchner Symphoniker and its Chief Conductor Kevin John Edusei, on the Swiss label Solo Musica.

Walton was relatively sheltered from the turbulence that was erupting in Europe as he wrote his Violin Concerto. Nonetheless there is a melancholy to Kim’s performance that foreshadows the horrors described in the darker music of Hartmann’s Concerto Funèbre and Bartók’s Violin Concerto No 2. Kim brings a beautiful warmth and wistful lyricism to the first movement, but while she attacks the opening of the spitfire second with plenty of energy, she can’t quite match the crisp, fiery brilliance Tasmin Little achieves in her Chandos recording. She does, however, bring a wonderfully saucy elasticity to the lilting figures that follow, and the finale has a boisterousness that makes exciting listening.

Unlike Walton, Hartmann was in the thick of it, living in Nazi Germany but withdrawing from musical life. Kim brings a contained intensity to the bleak introduction of his Concerto Funèbre. Though not as desolate as Thomas Zehetmair’s rendition, it’s certainly more anguished than Gil Shaham’s. She brings lyricism to the slow movements, and while the Adagio di molto isn’t as fleet as Zehetmair’s, she gives it taut, fierce energy.

There is fierce competition in Bartók’s Violin Concerto No 2 – Isabelle Faust’s recording, for example – but Kim’s account is compelling. Edusei and the orchestra bring plenty of wildness to the grotesque figures while under Kim’s bewitching violin lines, they embrace the haunting, atmospheric mood of the Andante tranquillo, before she tears into the third movement.

This is a bold debut, and while Kim is fighting to carve out territory in repertoire that’s already well served, this release certainly establishes her as one to watch.