21st Century Violin Works
G. Studdard | Fort Worth, Texas United States | 11/11/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Violin virtuoso, Jennifer Koh, presents a series of works by contemporary composers in this combo DVD-CD album. For those music lovers of solo violin works who wish to delve into the more expressionist recent music this album is recommended.
Conductor/Composer, Esa-Pekka Salonen's Lachen Verlernt, inspired by Schoenberg's Singspiel, Pierot Lunaire, probes whole tone scale triple stops with open E string ostinato. This chaconne sparkles with light, scale-wise passages with occasional ponticello bowing producing a glassy tone alternating with sul tasto or natural bowing masterfully played. Tal Rosner's accompanying video graphically portrays the angular piece in striking color and shape combinations.
Composer Elliott Carter's Four Lauds, is a collection of solo violin pieces written in honor of his friends: Aaron Copland, Roger Sessions, Goffredo Petrassi, Robert Mann, Ole Bøhn and Rolf Schulte. Ms. Koh uses her considerable technique to express the "flying" and "interrupted" atonal melodic lines. A string tremolo passage in "Fantasy" sports simultaneous left hand pizzicato, which is akin to patting your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time.
Pulsar by Augusta Read Thomas is an intensely evocative work opening with sequences around F on the E string, then pulsating into other registers. The difficult delicate pianissimo phrasing in the upper register is remarkably performed.
John Zorn's Goetia, written for Ms. Koh, consists of eight short movements or "incantations." The form of each movement is a tone row, based on Schoenberg's twelve tone technique. Zorn employs the same strict sequence of 277 pitches, which can be transformed across a range of four octaves and in disparate combinations and rhythms. Ms. Kohn demonstrates her technical ability and dynamic sensitivity admirably.