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Rhapsodic Musings: 21st Century Works for Solo Violin


3.3 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Enhanced, September 29, 2009
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Editorial Reviews

Product description

Œucres de Esa-Pekka Salonen, Elliott Carter, Augusta Read Thomas, John Zorn / Jennifer Koh, violon


Jennifer Koh brings both a formidable technique and considerable warmth to this varied set of contemporary violin works. Her reading of Elliott Carter's "Riconoscenza per Goffredo Petrassi" (1984), notable for its plush tone and evocative portamento, is a highlight, as are her expressive, vibrato-rich account of Augusta Read Thomas's "Pulsar" (2003) and her thoughtful performance of Esa-Pekka Salonen's "Lachen Verlernt" (2002). -- New York Times, Allan Kozinn, November 23, 2010

Koh, when she gives a recital in Buffalo this spring as part of the Ramsi P. Tick Memorial Concert Series, is going to be playing Mozart and Schubert. On this CD, pictured as if girded for battle, she does her best to win us over to music by conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen, the now 100-year-old Elliott Carter, Augusta Read Thomas and John Zorn. Most of it is tough going, though I admire Koh's enthusiasm and virtuosity. Things improve with "Goetia," by out-there saxophonist Zorn. Zorn knows something about entertaining and keeping an audience. A violinist cannot equal his personal charm--his live performances gain from his individual expressiveness and drive. But Koh, again, does her best, especially in the perpetual-motion third movement, which is a delight. This disc isn't for everyone, but for the niche new-music audience, it's worthy of note. -- Buffalo News, Mary Kunz Goldman, January 2010

Rumor has it that there's a big chunk of the classical music listening public that is afraid of contemporary music. When it's played with the passion and conviction that violinist Jennifer Koh generates on behalf of these three 21st-century scores (not excluding Elliott Carter's Four Lauds, which were composed between 1984 and 2000), the skeptics have nothing to fear. She displays impeccable technique and a flawless tonal range regardless of their degree of difficulty, and more important, uncovers the lyrical impulse at the music's core.

Even so, I think the disc's title, borrowed from Carter, understates the nature of the music somewhat. None of these works quite suit the state of absorption in thought or dreamy abstraction that my dictionary applies to musing, though rhapsodic they may be. True, Augusta Read Thomas's Pulsar does resolve its dramatic thrusts, swoops, and soaring with a meditative conclusion. And Carter's Four Lauds--"Statement--Remembering Aaron" (Copland), "Riconoscenza per Goffredo Petrassi," "Rhapsodic Musings," and "Fantasy"--maintain recognizable classical proportions amid their flamboyant gestures. Esa-Pekka Salonen's Lachen Verlernt takes its title from a line in Albert Giraud's sequence of poems, Pierrot Lunaire (in Otto Hartleben's German translation from the original French, "Mein Lachen/Hab ich verlernt!"--I have unlearned [or forgotten] all my laughter!). The music, however, owes nothing to Schoenberg as it accelerates, chaconne-like, from an introductory lament to a fantasia of impulsive double-stops and sizzling twists of phrase. (Tal Rosner's accompanying CD-ROM video of geometric and graphically altered imagery choreographed to Lachen Verlernt is a pleasant but extraneous bonus.)

The eight movements of John Zorn's Goetia provide--perhaps predictably, given his participation in free jazz, thrash rock, and other extravagant musical genres--the most aggressive events and make the most treacherous technical demands on the violinist. The title is derived from the Greek word for sorcery, and relates to the Middle Ages practice of conjuring demons through elaborate spells and numerological systems. In this case, Zorn has devised a sequence of 277 pitches that remain the same in each movement, but whose character changes according to shifts in phrasing, tempo, dynamics, and attack. But, as program booklet annotator Paul Griffiths suggests, the bristling pizzicatos, slashing multi-stops, and moto perpetuo passages, for all their "demonic" intensity, may simply remind us of how the fiddle has long been identified as the devil's own instrument.

Jennifer Koh is a hell of a violinist (sorry, couldn't resist), and this is a most impressive recital. -- Art Lange, Fanfare, Jan-Feb 2010

Stream Zorn, J.: Goetia / Carter, E.: 4 Lauds / Salonen, E.-P.: Lachen Verlernt / Thomas, A.R.: Pulsar (Rhapsodic Musings) by Jennifer Koh and tens of millions of songs on all your devices with Amazon Music Unlimited. Exclusively for Prime members. New subscribers only. Terms apply.
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Product details

  • Composer: Esa-Pekka Salonen, Elliott Carter, Augusta Read Thomas, John Zorn
  • Audio CD (September 29, 2009)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Enhanced
  • Label: Cedille Records
  • ASIN: B002JP9HXA
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #387,445 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
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September 9, 2017
Format: Audio CD|Verified Purchase
November 11, 2009
Format: Audio CD
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