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Even though she debuted with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the Ravinia Festival in August 1972 (in Sibelius’s Violin Concerto with Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt conducting), Korean violinist Kyung-Wha Chung was introduced to downtown Chicago audiences in January 1974 by Sir Georg Solti, performing Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto. Her program book biography is here.

From the Chicago Tribune: “Few soloists of any age can match Georg Solti in drive and energy output, but last night it took only a measure or two of the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto to certify Kyung-Wha Chung as one of them. The comely Korean violinist still in her mid-twenties, took those familiar old melodies and made them sing as if their life depended on it—as indeed it does. There are more accurate players in the thinning ranks of true virtuoso performers, but only a handful with her ability to sustain listener interest and communicate the feeling behind the notes. . . . Miss Chung takes fullest advantage of her instrument’s ability to breathe life into a sustained tone and has an actress’ sense of phrase and pacing. . . . It has been years since I attended a performance of this work which seemed too short. She left me wishing for more.” The complete reviews are here, here, and here.

With Solti and the CSO at Orchestra Hall, Chung again appeared in Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto on October 23, 24, 26, and 27, 1979; in Berg’s Violin Concerto and Bartók’s First Violin Concerto on October 13, 14, and 15, 1983; and Bartók’s Second Violin Concerto on October 5, 6, and 7, 1995. Out of town, she performed with Solti and the Orchestra in Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto on January 21, 1974, in Milwaukee.

Chung recorded with Solti on several occasions. With the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, in 1979 she recorded Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto for video, and in 1983 she recorded Bartók’s First Violin Concerto and Berg’s Violin Concerto. With the London Philharmonic Orchestra, in 1976 she recorded Bartók’s Second Violin Concerto and in 1977 she recorded the Elgar Violin Concerto. All recordings were released by London Records.

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