New Classical Tracks: Cellist Hee-Young Lim celebrates French composers
Hee-Young Lim French Cello Concertos; London Symphony Orchestra/Scott Yoo (Sony Classical)
Hee-Young Lim was the principal solo cellist of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra when she was selected to become the first cello professor at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing last September. Hee-Young grew up in Seoul, South Korea, where she recalls she didn't choose the cello, the cello came to her.
"A friend of my mom brought a small cello one day, saying her daughter decided not to play it. And, one day, a friend of mine just came to play some games with me and she saw the cello. She was very interested and my mom was like, 'Yeah why don't you keep it, because Hee-Young never shows any interest.' I got so mad I was like, 'I'm going to play it. You cannot touch it. And I'm still playing it.'"
Hee-Young, you've just released your debut recording; why did you decide to focus on French cello concertos?
"The fact that I spent many years in France, the fact I love French culture, language, food … I wanted to choose French composers for my first album, and the next question was: what to record?
"So, Saint-Saëns would be a popular concerto and Darius Milhaud is not so well known. So, I wanted to have like this kind of different style of composers."
The Cello Concerto No. 1, by Darius Milhaud: Let's talk about the different layers that we hear in this work and what makes it so special. Can you point out some things for us?
"It's not very difficult for listeners to understand this music. It's very easy going. For example, in the first movement after the cello, in the beginning when orchestra joins me, I can imagine Paris in the '70s. You know, like strolling in small streets, just unwinding myself, relaxing."
The recording fills out with two shorter works for the cello. The Offenbach piece: Is that a tribute to Jacqueline du Pré?
"Actually, Offenbach and Jacqueline du Pré, they are not in the same periods. Offenbach was way earlier than du Pré, so somebody named it after her death, I guess. It made this piece very famous."
I know during the recording session something pretty unforgettable occurred as you were recording the Saint-Saëns Cello Concerto. Would you share that story and how you got through that?
"I was recording the second movement of the Saint-Saëns Cello Concerto. I heard something touching my cello, and I was like oh, is the microphone falling into my cello? And then I was looking at my bow and the button that tightens the hair. It was gone. So, I was like, what's happening? And then that part was on the floor.
"Luckily, the principal violist had Scotch tape, so he just taped my bow and it was really nerve breaking to play fast passages and spiccato passages with the bow taped."
To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.