To a small, enthusiastic audience in St Cuthbert’s College’s spacious Clouston Hall, Benedict Lim and Somi Kim performed in association with the Auckland String Quartet School on January 4th. School attendees mingled with members of the public. The recital began with the Bach Ciannona, a piece whose three opening chords are often played forcefully, and which drifted feather-gently from Benedict Lim’s violin, inviting instead of commanding attention. Seventeen-year-olds with brilliance is hardly unknown in classical music; seventeen-year-olds with restrained authority are rarer. Violinist and violin teacher Mary O’Brien, describing Benedict’s playing, said that he “disappears… Brings you right into the centre of the music.” She added that maintaining a creative sound on every single note is very hard to achieve. Not sounding repetitive is a deceptively technical challenge requiring a sure touch, one which Benedict possesses, allowing his riveting performances to feel nonperformative.
Somi Kim, a member of NZTrio, is a more forceful, energetic player than Benedict, but despite having had few opportunities to practice, the two read each other well. After Benedict’s solo Ciaccona, the two of them played Mozart’s Sonata for Violin and Piano in e minor; Bloch’s Nigun, and the Brahms Sonata for Violin and Piano in d minor, finishing with Saint-Saens Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso. The enthusiastic audience called for an encore. The day before the performance, Somi and Benedict had come together to practice their planned encore for the first time and realised that, while each had prepared a Hungarian Dance by Brahms, they were not the same Hungarian Dances. And so they chose a new piece – Debussy’s Beau Soir – to learn and memorize it in the course of the following morning. The result was perfect: a clean, soothing finish which left a happy hush before the applause.
– Written by Jack Larsen