Violin winner's concert is inspired by Belgian journey

Ronan Lim, winner of the Violin Senior Category Prize and Goh Soon Tioe Outstanding Performance Award at the 2015 National Piano and Violin Competition, created a 60-minute programme strongly shaped by a visit to Belgium and the Franco-Belgian school of violin-playing.

Despite its brevity, the concert was comprehensive and an impressive solo recital debut.

Lim opened the concert with Bach's Sonata No. 1 for Solo Violin, taking the contemplative strains of the opening Adagio steadily and evenly, albeit with more vibrato than many have come to expect.

The Fuga (fugue) that followed flowed better and Lim's added shaping and use of dynamics made it a very successful movement.

Omitting the final two movements was a letdown, as Lim, 17, was just finding his stride in the Fuga and the seven minutes of the Siciliano and Presto would have given him more time to round off the Bach and to limber up for the technical fireworks to come in his next piece.

  • REVIEW / CONCERT

  • RONAN LIM - MY BELGIAN SOJOURN

  • Esplanade Recital Studio/ Tuesday

Eugene Ysaye was by all accounts a formidable violinist and his Caprice ("Caprice after the Study in the form of a Waltz by Saint- Saens") is a work often used as a recital finale or encore.

Lim's playing of it here was again secure and fluent, and the virtuosic demands of the work were comfortably handled, although the "capricious" aspects of the showpiece were muted.

Cesar Franck's Violin Sonata is said to be dedicated by the composer to Ysaye as a wedding gift. The young Lim did very well to express the broad palette of emotions within this high-Romantic masterpiece. Less overtly technical than the Bach or Ysaye, the Franck sonata requires maturity and depth in playing and Lim's carefully considered and well-paced performance was excellent for a violinist his age.

A sonata like the Franck needs the strongest support from the pianist and Lim could not have asked for a better collaborator than Lim Yan. Playing as if he had committed the expansive piano part to memory - Lim Yan was supremely committed and utterly sensitive to his partner's intent.

Unusually, Ronan Lim played from the score, leaving one to wonder how much more convincing the performance could have been if his focus was on the pianist and the music, rather than on the notes in front of him.

The free-flowing recitative in the third movement saw him more absorbed in the music and less self- conscious of the notes. In the final movement, a more unrestrained, free-flowing young violinist emerged.

An even more compelling Ronan Lim was heard in a prepared encore of a Rondino by Henri Vieuxtemps, Belgian teacher of Ysaye, where Lim's virtuosity and innate musicianship shone.

There was much to admire in the discipline, preparation and thought put into the programme and we can look forward to much more from Lim.

The unconstrained, flowing violinist heard towards the end of the Franck and in the Vieuxtemps suggests that it may be good for his Belgian sojourn to be coupled with some less structured, more exploratory journeys.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 30, 2016, with the headline 'Violin winner's concert is inspired by Belgian journey'. Print Edition | Subscribe