By Laurence Vittes | From the March-April 2022 issue of Strings magazine
The passion with which the Shea-Kim duo tears into three outwardly different pieces for violin and piano—Dvořák’s Mazurek, Op. 49; Grieg’s Violin Sonata No. 3 in C minor, Op. 45; and Janáček’s Sonata for violin and piano—takes them straight to the heart of the music in performances that capture what they describe in the liner notes as “the love, the beauty, the intimate moments, the rage and the intensity we feel in our own storytelling.”
Brendan Shea and Yerin Kim also write that their selections “reflect the deep, majestic fjords of Edvard Grieg, the emotional turbulence of Leoš Janáček, and the joy and love of Antonín Dvořák,” but the slightly hysterical nature of Shea’s double-stops opening Dvořák’s Mazurek (the piece was dedicated to Sarasate), the duo’s profoundly schizophrenic approach to the Grieg, and the rhapsodic earthy tone they set in Janáček’s violent universe—about which the composer later wrote that he “could just about hear the sound of steel clashing in his troubled head”—explore more troubling musical worlds.
Shea and Kim work exquisitely as a team, overlapping their lines so seamlessly they become inseparable. Shea’s throbbing tone at times gives way to a radiant purity and the music overall comes across as more than merely notes, more like real life.
The duo describe the difference between recording The Sound and Fury at Blue Griffin’s studio (The Ballroom) in Lansing, Michigan, and their first recording, made live in Seoul in 2016, as akin to the difference between the raw unpredictability of Nirvana Unplugged in New York and the feeling of the band’s breakout album, Nevermind. If so, then live in Seoul must have been really wild.