Senior Recitals: Lauren Kim and Julie Xie

“Music fills the infinite between two souls,” wrote Indian poet and playwright Rabindranath Tagore. The senior recital by Julie Xie ’10 and Lauren Kim ’10 in the Timken Room this past Sunday not only brought the two performers together, but also established unspoken connections with the audience through music. The first half of the concert starred pianist Xie in a deep blue gown with a glowing effect. The audience members held their breaths as Xie began Chopin’s “Nocturne No. 1 in B-flat Major,” the first notes stylistically experimental and tentative. Throughout the piece, Xie demonstrated her musicality by stretching and pushing the rhythm to give an improvisational, natural feel. At certain points, she would hit high notes, and her fingers would proceed to saunter down the keyboard in an effortless cascade of notes. Xie said, “My favorite piece was the Chopin Nocturne, because a week before I had worked on it with Eugene Indjic in the master class…and I felt I made a lot of improvements with it after the master class.” Xie was particularly adept at building up the sound, then suddenly dropping down in a hushed and tender tone that contrasted the original. Xie demonstrated that the best part of music is found in the rests. Expressive pauses before certain notes made listeners catch their hearts. A half-arpeggio at the end died away without quite resolving, as is consistent with Chopin’s style. Maurice Ravel’s “Pavane for a Dead Princess” opened with a sweet, reminiscent tone featuring repeated notes in the left hand. The heart-felt right hand harmonies opened listeners’ imaginations to the story of a princess in a perhaps faraway land. Though often mournful, each part of the piece ended in a major cadence. Angsty, tragic chords in the middle dissolved into a fairy-like melody high in the right hand. At the end, the same melody came back, this time even sweeter than before, and culminated in a string of grand, settling chords. Xie’s next piece, “Rondo Capriccioso, Op.14,” by Felix Mendelssohn began with a sweet, innocent melody that suddenly changed characters and transitioned into a fiery dance of the fingers. The ending was both happy and dramatic, with speedy arpeggios in the right hand. Fast notes flowed in waves up and down, and Xie’s executed perfect upward chromatic runs on the keyboard. The final piece, Bach’s “Piano Concerto in F minor, BWV 1058,” was a welcome break from Xie’s heavily-romantic program. Xie was accompanied by a string quartet featuring her fellow senior musicians Lauren Kim and Hoonie Moon ’10 on the violin, Jacob Shack ’10 on viola and David Chung ’10 on cello. Though the quartet sounded tentative at times, Xie came in powerfully and confidently with crisp technique. Xie recalled, “A week before the recital I had a really long lesson with my teacher, and I hadn’t even had my pieces memorized, and everything seemed like it was a huge mess…. But over the past week I think I’ve practiced more than I have in a month, and I’m really glad that things turned out okay on Sunday.” Kim was the star of the second half of the recital, performing three sonatas with Xie’s teacher Mana Tokuno, Instructor in Music, accompanying her. First on her program was Jean-Marie Leclair’s “Sonata for Violin and Piano in D Major, Op. 9.” Kim is known for her clean, pure tone and nearly flawless intonation, which came through in this pleasant baroque sonata. The allegro movement boasted a dancing, bouncing rhythm, which Kim played effortlessly. Her second piece, “Sonata for Violin and Piano in A Major” by Cesar Franck, resembled Xie’s “Pavane for a Dead Princess” in its elegant, dreamlike quality. Kim eased into the gentle, opening phrase that soon gave way to a virtuosic piano interlude. The second movement of the Franck sonata allowed Kim an opportunity to showcase her virtuosity and technical dexterity. Labeled “allegro,” this movement felt as if it was constantly driving forward, with the exception of several lyrical interludes in the middle. The piano part resembled a torrential, swirling river on which the violin melody seemed to ride. Even in the higher registers of the piece, Kim remained confident and expressive. Tokuno’s accompaniment was impressively passionate and added to the fiery temper of the piece. The Brahms “Sonata for Violin and Piano in G major, Op. 78” is a well-known beauty in violin repertoire. Some of the recurring melodies in both piano and violin echoed sentimentally through the hushed room. Kim made the swinging phrases and dialogues between violin and piano flow elegantly. She appeared to savor every note of her final solo recital at Andover. For Kim, this concert was a breakthrough in her ease of playing. She said, “I think I would definitely consider this concert as really a culmination of my time with the music program at Andover. It was the first concert I felt really comfortable at. Usually I’m shaking or red in the face, but with this, I really wanted to enjoy the pieces and do them justice.” Under the guidance of her teacher, Instructor in Music Holly Barnes, Kim feels that she has grown immensely as a musician in the past few years. “My violin teacher, Mrs. Barnes, made me see there’s this whole other side to music. Before I’d mainly focus on the notes or the beats or the bowing, but she helped me really think about the color of each tone and how subtle adjustments from either your bow or your technique really make a big difference,” she said. At the end of the concert, Xie and Kim took bows holding bouquets of flowers in their arms. Each expressed her gratitude to Tokuno for her guidance and support in preparation for this successful concert. Apsara Iyer ’12 contributed to reporting.