Min-Jin Kym

Gone - The Album

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This album by Korean violinist Min Kym (also known as Min-Jin Kym) accompanies her memoir Gone, which recounts the traumatic event of her life -- the theft of her 1696 Stradivarius violin from a London fast food restaurant -- and uses it as a lens to examine the life of a prodigy and the meaning of the weight placed on members of the limited group of surviving instruments from the golden age of Italian violin manufacturing. The story is a compelling one (the violin was eventually recovered, but not before Kym's life was, as the book's subtitle puts it, "unstrung"), but the album sold well even before the book's release. The concept is novel, but an audience of the 19th century would have eaten it up: the pieces on the album are keyed to specific pages in the book (and are indicated on those pages in the book as well). Thus you're hearing the Stradivarius that caused all the fuss, in recordings dating as far back as 1990, when Kym was in her early teens. The mastering job involved getting these recordings, from various sources and venues, to fit together, and the Warner Classics team deserves major kudos. Purely as an album of energetic performances by a young star violinist, the album succeeds as well: there aren't many recital standards or encore pieces, and from an early age Kym sank her teeth into Brahms and Prokofiev. Probably of most interest to readers of Kym's memoir, but listenable for anyone.

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