Just amazing! How else can I describe So-Ock's performance at Breinton this Saturday? A record 55 members attended this recital, and every single one of us were transfixed by her playing throughout the whole performance. The programme was very demanding – Bach's Chaconne, Bartók's Sonata for solo violin, followed by Ysaÿe's Sonatas No. 2, 3 and 4. So-Ock has been one of the musicians I have desperately wanted to invite to Breinton since I went to her recital back in December 2009 at Wigmore Hall.

At that time, I really liked her performance, mainly because she produced such sensitive and serene sounds out of her violin. At Breinton, So-Ock proved that she is a powerful player as well. We wondered how she was able to produce such power and energy from her petite physique!

One of the members, although admitting that she is no expert in the instrument, described her amazement: 'œI was amazed how much a violin can do. Tens of thousands of the notes So-Ock produced were really original, with true colours '“ some thick and deep, some so sensitive that it felt like her violin was weeping. Her determination, serious attitude and braveness towards her playing, together with mysterious aura coming out of her made a sensational evening. Bravo!'

I love Bach"s Chaconne, and was personally delighted to see it included in her program. Every part of this piece is, I think, utterly beautiful and emotional '“ So-Ock played it superbly with powerful opening chords; expressive and emotional melodies, contrast and mood change into the major code were all in her playing.

Bartók"s Sonata, once described as 'almost unplayable' by Yehudi Menuhin, changed the recital mood completely. The work is fierce, severe, forceful and rather complicated. It challenges performers" technical skills and requires full concentration. It is rather demanding on the audience too, so conveying and expressing the composer"s intention is a real challenge. So-Ock was powerful, sharp and ambitious, and kept the audience '“ including all the children '“ fully engaged.

I loved every single piece she played, but I must say my favourite was the second half. Ysaÿe"s Sonatas are again technically very demanding, and every note needs to be micro-precise. Once my daughter Erika"s violin teacher said that Ysaÿe"s sonatas have quarter tones, which means if I describe on the piano, there is a note between an adjacent white key and black key; obviously, it is not possible to express this on the keyboard. This alone, to me, sounds awfully difficult! The programme note from Making Music says that, despite the highly technical demands, Ysaÿe recurrently warned violinists that they should never forget to sing, instead of becoming preoccupied with technical elements. So-Ock"s performance was exactly that '“ singing '“ and musical and spiritual. In Sonata No. 2, the first movement Obsession began with So-Ock"s pure and clear sounds. It developed into dynamic and fierce phrases, and it"s dramatic ending of arpeggio and a piercing high note gave me quite a shiver! On the contrary, the 2nd movement Malinconia was slow with astonishing melodies and prolonged notes with fabulous vibrato. Danse des Ombres, which began with plucking, was my favourite. Starting with a slow tempo, spiritual melody in the middle and ending with powerful chords and an octave, it had such contrast of style which was expressed gorgeously. Sonatas No. 3 and No. 4 were fabulously played too, leaving the audience in total silence.

How did she manage to leave enough power to play an encore '“ Recuredos de la Alambra by Tarrega. It was breath-taking. Everybody"s jaw dropped by this stage.

On top of being a superb performer, So-Ock was a lovely person as well. After the recital, she came out to chat with our members. We wish So-Ock the best of luck for her debut at Carnegie Hall in New York, which will take place in 17 March.


  • Bach: Partita No 2 in D minor, Chaconne
  • Bartók: Sonata for Solo Violin Sz. 117, BB 124
  • Ysaÿe: Sonata No. 2
  • Ysaÿe: Sonata No. 3 "Ballade"
  • Ysaÿe: Sonata No. 4

About So-Ock Kim

"...remarkable violinist So-Ock Kim... breathtaking virtuosity... she shaped a powerful performance... magic". The Times

"So-Ock Kim....outstanding. What was so remarkable about Kim"s playing was not only her technical mastery, but also the tenderness and warmth she found...there was an unmistakable sense of a personal, emotional involvement with the music, revealing astonishing musical maturity"". The Guardian

So-Ock was the youngest ever winner of the gold medal in the prestigious Shell/LSO Competition at the age of 15.