Russians mock NY Phil violinist’s Tchaikovsky concerto

A malign Russian musician, masquerading online as ‘Grigory Rasputin’, has posted on Youtube some highlights of a March 2015 performance of the Tchaikovsky concerto in Seoul, South Korea.

The soloist is Lisa Kim, Associate Principal Second Violin of the New York Philharmonic. The intonation is not altogether pinpoint. More lowlights, as it were, than highlights.

‘Rasputin’ calls the video How Not to Play…. Click here if you need to hear more.

 

lisa kim ny phil

The original link has now been taken down. You can see the performance under discussion here.

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    • But it’s not the NYPhil that is performing in this video, just one of its second violinists, with some local orchestra.

      (Still, why choose her as the soloist though, even if it was to feature Korean artists, did top Korean violinists disappear overnight?)

  • Whoever posted this video is a jerk. For the rest of us, before anyone starts criticizing someone else’s Tchaikovsky Concerto performance, post your own and show us how it’s done.

    It’s ok to have an opinion, it’s not ok to be meanspirited — and to have the video skip around to the “bad” passages demonstrates that the poster has far more (and more serious) problems than the performer.

    Like I said, whoever posted this video is a jerk.

    • Agree 100%

      We’ve all had bad gigs – well, except for you Norman – [redacted] – but when we’ve had bad gigs, we’ve been fortunate enough to not have the performance televised, edited down for the mistakes, and then vomited up onto YouTube without our prior knowledge or consent.

      To seemingly delight or gain titillation in someone else’s misfortune is a horrid thing to do.

      Shame on you for posting this mean-spirited unkindness.

      Again.

    • Just because the Tchaikovsky is challenging (and I have played it!) does not mean that a soloist should not be able to play it perfectly! So Rasputin picked the nasty bits, but it was a bit of a thrash, with neither intonation nor tempo as reliable as they should have been. If an orchestral player rushes like that, they are known as a wrecker!

    • So, when in this forum people attack P.Gelb for making X amount of dollars, that’s fine.

      As a member of NY Phil, doesn’t she make over $100K for working 9 months out of the year, while there are full time musicians from smaller orchestras that cant pay rent with their reducing salary, or that get paid per concert?

      Where is the outcry here? Oh no, I forgot, its ‘the untouchable musician”. “Everybody has a bad day”……

      If you are a member of a B or C orchestra or my little cousin, and you destroy the concerto like this, obviously its not a matter of news. But if you play in NY Phil (and get the respective remuneration and status) any musician is supposed to have enough professionalism not to do this in a public stage you know will be recorded.

    • What makes this person a “jerk” is the fact that the YouTube account this video is posted on, only contains this video and was only created 2 days ago, apparently with the sole purpose of bringing this clip into circulation (which this thread and the posted link assisted).

      “For the rest of us, before anyone starts criticizing someone else’s Tchaikovsky Concerto performance, post your own and show us how it’s done.”
      Funny how one never hears similar demands when it comes to talent shows, sports or politics.

      @Norman, how does “a malign Russian musician” constitute the use of the plural in the headline?

    • Completely agreed.

      This seems to be some kind of harassment campaign.

      This should be taken down. I’m not sure how the laws work everywhere but in some countries it isn’t even legal to try hurt somebody in such a systematic way, harassing them and trying to make them look bad.

  • This person who posted the video clearly does not play and could never stand up with orch to perform Tchaikovsky. We can all have a stumble or even a not so great night. Let’s see this person get out from behind the pseudonym and give us all a personal demonstration of ‘how it should be’ . They would still come off as a most unpleasant, conceited human being. In my experience, the greater the musician/ commentator, the more humble, kind, diplomatic and forgiving. They have been there.

  • Knowing the Russians as I do, I really DOUBT this guy cant stand up with orch and play it , I think is the concerto most performed by students throughout Russia , and they play very well ! Despite tremendous Video bad taste , It’s like profane a national treasure for then.
    They dont forgive that, its cultural.

  • WHY to post this malicious attack? Lisa is a very fine violinist. I have known her for more than twenty years. It is the only time that I heard her having any “technical” problems. Anyone can and have occasional night off. Shame on the one who put this collagefaxeduri on youTube, and I am also very disapointed with the direction of Slliped disc…. hello tabloids

  • This is so insular its laughable.

    If you pinpoint failures in a musician you are a jerk, but when you attack management for – well, lets just say for everything – then you are altruistic

    Stick it to the man! Getting really tired of seeing the same thing over and over again.

    She destroyed the concerto – there’s no arguing about that. If I had had access to this footage I would’ve posted it wit the exact same title.

    And if you think everybody has a bad day – fine, but apply that same barometer with all actors in the business of music, not just ‘the poor musicians’.

    My guess is she wont be playing the Tchaikovsky anytime soon- deservedly so.

        • I am assuming neither you nor all the other hatred-filled people here bashing this violinist for a bad performance of the Tchaikovsky concerto are actually performing musicians, right? It is so obvious… But, in the unlikely case I am mistaken please post just one link from your best performance of any given piece and let’s see if you can bare the criticism, for good or for bad. A..hole!

          • Right, you should go to any school or university and demand that only mathematicians who are better than Pythagoras teach math, or only physicists better than Einstein teach physics. Your argument is simply mentally retarded. Further, I am not getting gigs on the premise that I belong to a world class ensemble, nor am I paid in such fashion. If it was the case, be damn sure I would 1) prepare better, since my performance reflects not only you as a musician but the ensemble in which you belong 2) be able to take it if I screw up. Its called accountability.

  • According the the NYP website, she has been in the orchestra since 1994. Orchestral playing can be extremely bad for maintaining ‘solo chops’, and 21 years is a very long time. Those tutti string parts can really dull the fingers after a while. She probably hardly ever plays concerto repertoire, and certainly not in public.

    Why am I no longer seeing this website with proper formatting? It seems to be be plain HTML for the last couple of weeks.

    • David Nadien, Aaron Rosand, Oscar Shumsky (just to name a few) were all members of an orchestra for 15+ years and yet they were able to maintain their chops. How do you explain that?

      • Nadien, Rosand and Shumsky were not primarily orchestra players playing in the 2nd violin section for 20 years. They freelanced in the commercial recording fields when not playing solo concertos. Nadien was NY Phil concertmaster for only 3 or 4 years before returning full-time to commercial recording. Rosand financed his solo career by playing studio dates. Shumsky taught at Juilliard for many years.

    • Agree, even the venerable concertmaster of the Vienna Phil, Rainer Kuchl has sounded a bit “off” in his latter years during solo repertoire – notably in Scheherazade under Gergiev which can be seen on YT.

  • This video should be removed from Slipped Disc immediately.

    Let’s dispense with the “content” of the video first. It’s two minutes of a 35 minute performance, clearly something is going wrong, and I’m sure the violinist was unhappy about it.

    Second, in this day and age, it’s not surprising that a cruel jerk would waste his time to take some missed passages from a 35 minute performance, cut and paste them together, then publicly shame a wonderful violinist who in all likelihood did nothing to him. The internet is often a wretched place, full of jerks like this who take some inferiority or vulnerability of their own and project it onto others, trying to tear people down in order to make up for some great deficiency in their own lives. These people are to be pitied.

    What IS surprising is that someone who purports to be a respectable journalist of classical music, someone who is (sadly, it seems) trusted in the music world, someone who is as widely read and (dis)respected as he is, would stoop so low as to bring this abominable video into the public eye, surely pointing thousands of views to this act of public shaming. This video, which most likely would not be seen by anyone except this poor troll “Rasputin,” will now be given exposure this journalist surely KNOWS is not deserved. Shame on anyone who shares this video, and shame on the “journalist” who posted it.

      • I don’t see what my anonymity has to do with this. Perhaps you can enlighten me. What matters is by choosing to share this video you have participated in an act of cruel public shaming. How do you justify this?

      • “Josh” does have a point with his first sentence, if one contrasts a “malign Russian musician” with a 2 day old YouTube account with a blog with “more than 50,000 daily readers, 1.4 million a month”.

    • I really wonder what this word “vulnerable” is doing here, in reference to someone (anyone) “projecting” their vulnerability on others. As if that’s even possible. When you’re vulnerable, you see that in all others (that would be seeing that one can make mistakes, rather than the other way around and use it for judgement), as if that (vulnerability being some evil thing trolls project onto others) is making a statement about how a human should be, rather than should (it being a mistake to be vulnerable).

      Is there some issue with “vulnerability” going on here.
      Where’s the T-shirt that says “I’m no Troll, I have no vulnerabilities.”

      People who dare to express vulnerability also see it in others, that’s called compassion.

      As if we haven’t heard enough IN THIS DAY AND AGE that “vulnerable” people supposedly have something wrong with them.

      I’m not Norman, so I can’t say why Norman shared this video, but in reference to lowlights rather than highlights and a “malign” musician “masquerading,” I hardly think this is an advertisement for the “justified” “vulnerabilities some mythological creature named a “troll” has.

  • Who in their “right” mind cares ? As a violin concerto it must only appeal to the lowest taste
    as does the piano concerto .

  • Reposting this slightly edited since it was apparently not approved:

    This video should be removed from Slipped Disc immediately.

    Let’s dispense with the “content” of the video first. It’s two minutes of a 35 minute performance, clearly something is going wrong, and I’m sure the violinist was unhappy about it.
    Second, in this day and age, it’s not surprising that a cruel jerk would waste his time to take some missed passages from a 35 minute performance, cut and paste them together, then publicly shame a wonderful violinist who in all likelihood did nothing to him. The internet is often a wretched place, full of jerks like this who take some inferiority or vulnerability of their own and project it onto others, trying to tear people down in order to make up for some great deficiency in their own lives. These people are to be pitied.
    What IS surprising is that someone who purports to be a respectable journalist of classical music, someone who is rusted in the music world, someone who is as widely read and respected as he is, would bring this abominable video into the public eye, surely pointing thousands of views to this act of public shaming. This video, which most likely would not be seen by anyone except this poor troll “Rasputin,” will now be given exposure this journalist surely knows is not deserved. Shame on anyone who shares this video.

    • 1-“Rasputin” did NOT cut and paste two minutes of footage featuring all the mishaps. Here is the original video in its entirety: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IaKIgn-Md0.

      2-Do you not believe that an individual currently holding a titled position in one of the most prestigious orchestras of the world should have demonstrated more professionalism by being prepared and demonstrated a more proficient performance? AND if her duties/commitments in the orchestra prevents her from maintaining the “chops” as stated earlier by Alex, why perform and give a sub par performance? I believe when you take the stage you have a responsibility to be prepared and put your best foot forward. We owe it to the people in the audience who pay for tickets and to the music we are presenting.

      • Obviously she didn’t INTEND to go up there and give a messy performance. Presumably she thought it would go better than it did.

        It is also possible that she might not have been as prepared as necessary. Orchestra parts are quite a bit easier than concerti, so maybe she is not used the kind of preparation level required for a concerto.

        All that aside, it really is embarrassing for her. Quite bad playing, now that I’m listening to the whole thing.

      • Finally a well reasoned commentary.

        One should expect any professional musician (specially from such a reputed ensemble) to know when things are ready and when not. One does not see Andre Agassi trying to compete in the masters. You retire for a reason.

        She might be a very capable orchestral musician, but clearly this was not the venue nor the form to approach it for her at this point of her career.

        However, for many to state the obvious is blasphemy, using the cheap argument “dont criticize if you cant do it better”. Its childish reasoning. Kind of what a 5 year old would say to their professors after a poor mark: “you have no reason to correct me if you are no better than Pythagoras, Aristotle, Shakespeare or Newton”. Its simply retarded argumentation.

        She was clearly unprepared. Watching the entire video simply confirms it. That’s unprofessional, there’s no excuse. Further, in many instances would even warrant her dismissal from NYPhil because she carries that brand with her, and might be the reason why she got the engagement in the first place.

        Can you imagine any executive from a major corporation totally disastrous presentation in a major world event? Everybody has a bad day, but in any moderately well run organization in any other industry they would be dismissed.

        Maybe that’s a bit extreme, but that is how real life works people.

  • I wonder how one’s choice of a Russian pseudonym makes him a Russian by default.

    This aside, as G. B. Shaw put, I don’t need to produce eggs to be able to discuss an omelette. One may critisize oven when he can’t play himself. This doesn’t say though that such critic shouldn’t be correct and good-minded.

    • Fully agree!Most likely a mean-spirited colleague of hers.The user has neither videos nor likes besides the account was made up two days ago.It would be impossible to bring this video to anybody’s attention without a pointed lead.May I suggest whoever lent the link to this blog is a culprit.
      The title is misleading and mean too.Where are PLURAL RussianS mocking the hapless violinist?The only mockery is happening right here in this blog.
      Hitting both beloved hate targets of lately – Asians and Russians.Very sad indeed.

  • There are bad nights where professionals miss a couple notes here and there’s not knowing how to play. Anyone who knows violin playing after watching this will realize Lisa does not know how to play properly. She does not belong in a big 5 orchestra let alone a professional gig.

    I’m surprised to see the outpouring of support for this incompetent person. If she was a doctor, and performed surgery at this level, it would be the equivalent of cutting the wrong artery.

    There are plenty of orchestral musicians who can play well, not making the kind of money she is. I’m really tired of reading the excuses.

    We live in a different era of accountability. If you’re a NY Phil principal you might want to practice before your next concert, because someone just might bring a camera.

  • The Tchaikovsky was Tchai-kimchi-ed?

    (Sorry, South Korea, the near-homonym was too good not to be shared)

  • Nadien, Rosand and Shumsky were not primarily orchestra players playing in the 2nd violin section for 20 years. They freelanced in the commercial recording fields when not playing solo concertos. Nadien was NY Phil concertmaster for only 3 or 4 years before returning full-time to commercial recording. Rosand financed his solo career by playing studio dates. Shumsky taught at Juilliard for many years.

    • The instability of income and unpredictability of one’s schedule as a freelance musician vs. income stability, 4 to 5 hours of rehearsal during the day and a concert at night, 10 weeks off during the season as an orchestral musician…I wonder which scenario would be a more conducive environment to practice and prepare for performances?!

      I am going to go with the latter…Option #2 Orchestral Musician…final answer!

      • Unfortunately, the regular nature with which orchestral musicians are underprepared for performances suggests otherwise. Possibly it’s an incentive issue: because in a tenured job you may not worry so much about bothering, but as a freelancer you might only continue to get the work if you keep your standard and preparation up.

  • I am once again shocked by the nastiest comments emanating from people who have no idea ! Lisa Kim is primarily an orchestral player albeit in a top league orchestra. She is not an international soloist. She has not just finished her studies but has been playing in an orchestra for several years. It is very easy to select a few rough moments in a 35 minutes long concerto. I have heard many top flight soloists over the years who have rough moments in a performance. Same applies to singers etc.
    I am sure that Miss Kim is a very fine assistant principal in the NYP). The job does not require to play concertos but requires a complete different set of skills. And actually if you listen and watch properly you can tell that despite that very “unfair” medley selection that she is indeed a proper violinist.

    • Nonsense. It does not require a different skill set. You still have to play in tune,with good rhythm, and produce a sound that doesn’t sound like a cat in heat regardless of the type of music you are playing (orchestral, solo, chamber). In most places, one has to be able to play the Brahms, Tchaikovsky, or Mendelssohn concerto proficiently at the orchestra audition to win a job. Many orchestras auto advance ‘known’ candidates to the final round after the screen is taken down (whilst the union turns a blind eye). That is the only way I can imagine she won her job over far superior talents that I’m sure tried out.

  • When a German journalist hones in fastidiously on a single note that the Berlin Phil was found to have played with slightly less than perfect ensemble, it is all a good laugh. When a Russian Youtube-user takes similar action with Lisa Kim, it becomes a scandal.

    In both cases, the nature of the criticism does indeed seem mean-spirited and strikes me as a rather damning indictment of the state of music criticism, in that it suggests that our glorious ‘critics’ can find nothing more interesting to discuss. It is as a result of such criticism, abetted by a perfectionist recording industry, that performers have turned into note-machines who eschew taking risks on stage.

    Having said all that, there is nothing particularly bullying about the criticisms in either case, so, unimaginative as I find them, I think we should refrain from encouraging performers to become too thin-skinned. I have said before that promoters should review whether they should continue abetting the critics’ elevated status over the rest of us mortals in the audience by showering the critics indiscriminately with so many perks, such as free tickets, exclusive interviews, and receptions.

  • I find this article to be incredibly distasteful. What little of the performance I watched sucked, that’s fine, but to insinuate that the woman is unworthy of her day job because of it? How dare we? The internet is full of trolls, we all know that, but I would have hoped such a respected journalist would have shown greater class than to propagate such malicious garbage. Very disappointing.

  • I have watched some great soloists wander their way aimlessly through two movements of a concerto, with countless tiny flaws and/or detours, and then pull the piece together in the final movement and end up with a standing ovation.

    My top two contenders are a fabulous cellist with the with a Haydn concerto and the incomparable JPR, who managed to rewrite the Sarabande of the Bach unaccompanied A Minor Flute Sonata.

    So, yes, I consider it unfair to cherry pick a performance and then try to make something of it. People are not robots, after all. It is the exhilaration of experiencing a great live solo performance that we are hoping for…

  • Isn’t it obvious this was a hackjob – either a bad joke or some vendetta against this violinst? These Russians are fond of of posting videos of well known violinist “shredding” ie inserting the audio of a “bad violinist” in place of the regular audio (notably for Perlman and Mintz on YT) You’ve all been had – including the illustrious Mr. Lebrecht…..

  • The whole second movement is here:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pC8ySrJlVxc

    It proceeds quite nicely with some true lyricism, I think.

    Then in the third movement

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IaKIgn-Md0

    She starts having problems at the beginning, of it, who knows what happened. Anything could have, and she continues having problems but does pull it together at the very end. And has some beautiful lyrical moments despite whatever went wrong and clearly caused panic.

  • I don’t understand all this vigorous defense of having somehow a right to do a shoddy job especially as a soloist. The video is mean without doubt but that title is nothing more than the nasty click-bait and guess what, it worked because if it was anything milder nobody would ever see it. However, I listened to the entire 3rd mvt of this performance and it is just not a playing on a level expected from an acting principal in one of the most prestigious orchestras in the world. Naturally after playing many years in orchestra one is focused on different aspects of playing that makes great orchestras sound amazing. But if one accepts an invitation to play Tchaikovsky with orchestra as a soloist only to play what I would call “I practiced enough this difficult orchestra excerpts that in section I’ll be fine” version than this is for me a lack of respect for the audience. How would you feel paying equivalent of 150-200$ per ticket to listen to this performance? I don’t doubt that Mrs. Kim is a fantastic musician but she was not forced to accept this opportunity, nor choose this particular concerto, there are many other fabulous pieces which probably would serve her better and let her show some better sides. Lastly, we live in the times where being musician means that you’re being recorded all the time, even sometimes during rehearsals or practice. That means that as a rule anything you play has to be “perfect”. Is it annoying? Yes, but those are the times. The mistake you make on stage during any concert is already captured by TV, radio or by countless phones in the audience (without permission), few of them which will end up inevitably on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook hopefully without anybody realizing that something was off. Everybody can make a mistake and sure, everybody does one in a while. But in this last movement is just badly played. Leaving very shaky intonation, some wrong notes, the saddest part is that sound is awful. And I refuse to believe that as was said before: NY Phil musician of 20 years with 100K+ income per year is not able to afford decent violin, bow and strings. Lastly, there is a teaching aspect of any orchestra musician’s career: it probably undermines a lot of what Mrs. Kim is trying to convey to her students in the lessons, masterclasses, festivals etc. Simply, it wasn’t responsible to decide to play this program and then not prepare better.

  • This article is in shockingly bad taste. I’ve seen far worse on my orchestra’s stage from far bigger names, multiple times per season. Happens all the time. From the vile, disgusting comments on this page I was expecting far worse. As someone said–this is clearly a personal vendetta against Lisa Kim, whom I’ve known for almost 20 years. She is a superb violinist, and none of us were surprised when she won the job in the NY Phil.

    I’ve seen a principal of Vienna Phil murder Bartok 2nd Concerto beyond recognition. I’ve seen the Cleveland Orchestra stop and start over in Mahler 2. I’ve heard one of the world’s most famous violin soloists render the Dvorak Concerto all but unrecognizable. This is live music, though–and all of us in the business understand this. I would never dream of posting a fellow musician’s concert online with the sole purpose of discrediting their life’s body of work. How many thousands of spectacular performances has Lisa Kim given in her lifetime?

    Norman, shame on you for publishing this. You state that one should not hide behind a mask to abuse named others, but you let “Grigory Rasputin” do the same.

  • Have you gave a thought to the consequences of such a mean act of public shaming? What if the violinist suffers a disabling depression or commits suicide because of your bullying? It is not a jerk who posted this video who will be guilty but the author of this blog. Good and decent thing to do upon encountering such an occurrence – report to You Tube for violation and privately let the person harassed to know in order for her to remove the video. Instead you chose to air it worldwide in order to receive more visitors. This is tactics cheap tabloids employ.[redacted]

  • ===How many thousands of spectacular performances has Lisa Kim given in her lifetime?

    Probably not many. Of course we should ignore these technical glitches in the posted link but it’s quite clear there’s no spark behind the mechanical highly-trained playing.

  • It must have been a slow day in the classical world. We have a bunch of high brows whining about some violinist hitting a few wrong notes on the other side of the the globe. No wonder the world is in such a sad state. It’s called ‘getting a life.’

      • High brow as in high brow anal commentators who have nothing better to do than to worry about a violinist who hit some wrong notes in a concert very few saw or heard. There seem to be more than a few of those commenting on this website.

  • It’s one thing as someone noted above if this is some elementary school kid playing the Tchaikovsky badly. But it is another, when this is a principal to one of the world’s most prestigious orchestras playing at a very elementary level. You would expect the NY Phil principal to play at a higher level than some young kids, no?

    Here is a Russian (American Idol like) competition on Russian television for young string players. Even though their playing isn’t by any means perfect on the level of Szeryng, Hahn, Oistrakh, or Heifetz, I can say with all certainly, every one of the contestants plays at a higher level of musicianship and technical ability than Lisa Kim. Are these kids making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year? Here is the video for some perspective: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Snf8uDX0Q5g

  • The fair thing to do, Mr. Lebrecht, is to invite Ms. Kim to defend herself here, since you are personally responsible for inviting all these comments here and for providing the link to the YT video and its extra hits.

  • She was, most likely, rather nervous and probably played many passages rather more quickly than might otherwise have been the case. This could well have been compounded by the orchestra possibly being so loud, in places, that she simply could not hear herself.
    Very often, the situation arises where an audience can hear a soloist perfectly well yet, due to peculiarities of the hall, the stage and so on, the soloist cannot.
    It is in the worst possible taste to have edited out everything except these flaws in the performance and, if the circumstances were as I have described above, then I am surprised that the editor of the video was not able to offer a lengthier compilation.
    Other than shaking my head that someone would put together such a video, I am left with the impression that the soloist produced a nice sound.

  • The discussion on this site is ridiculous. In any other field besides music, there is an objective STANDARD for competence that must either be met or not. If a surgeon botched surgery, it would be unacceptable. If a mechanic didn’t fix the car properly, it would be indefensible. But if a violinist plays like absolute crap (like in this video), it’s wrong to call her out on it?

    First off, Tchaikovsky is an EASY concerto to play. It’s much easier technically than the other major concerti (Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Sibelius, etc). The orchestra also covers up a lot of it.

    Second, she is a titled player in a major orchestra. I thought you had to play a concerto at these auditions?

    This performance is UNACCEPTABLE for a professional. If you cannot play a concerto at high standard, don’t accept the engagement to perform it in public. If you suck, you deserve to be called out!

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