Interview with… Moonkyung Lee

Violinist Moonkyung Lee spoke to Love London Love Culture’s Editor Emma Clarendon about her upcoming new album Parts to Play released next month. 

What can people expect from ‘Parts to Play’? In choosing to include Prokofiev’s “Sonata for Solo Violin” amid compositions from six contemporary composers who collectively represent three decades of works, I tried to show the subtle nuances of every piece I perform. Also, as the title “we all have a part to play” implies, I think that by combining repertoire and new works, I am doing my part to enhance the violin’s repertoire.

It sounds as though there is plenty of variety on the album – do you have a favourite piece? Prokofiev solo sonata has been my favourite of all for a long time, and with this piece, the idea of Parts to Play came about. While every piece on this recording remains very precious and valuable to me, the very rhythmic and playful Viva by Michael Daugherty was such a joy as I was learning to play it.

How would you say it compares to your last release? In Parts to Play, I turn from the symphonic environment of the last album to a more intimate setting, with only the pianist Martha Locker as my partner on a selection of works that include both solo performances and intricate yet simple duets.

How did the concept for the album come about? The concept for Parts to Play started from my affection toward Prokofiev solo sonata and new music. As I mentioned, I have always really liked the solo sonata by Prokofiev, and it was obviously an easy choice to be included in the recording. However, I had a lot (in fact too many) of choices to make for the new music, so I decided to pick pieces that correspond well to the characters of Prokofiev sonata which, in my opinion, are simple and humorous.

Was it a long process to put the album together? How long had you been working on it? I first started discussing the new album’s concept with A&R at Navona Records in late 2016, and the recording sessions took place in November 2017 in Boston, MA. Of course, it took another six months until the release, so I would say altogether it took about a year and half from the initial discussion to the final release.

What’s next in store for you? After many years of playing solo, I realized how much I wanted to be and play with people around me who I care and who care about me. That is why I recently formed a group tentatively named the Yale Ensemble Players with my dear friends who attended Yale School of Music with me. We have concerts scheduled this year in several cities in Korea including Seoul and Busan, and in Taiwan next year. I’m very excited about these concerts.

Parts to Play will be released through Navona Records on the 8th June. 

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