Magazine article Gramophone

Koh and Her 1727 Stradivarius in Testing Works for Solo Violin

Magazine article Gramophone

Koh and Her 1727 Stradivarius in Testing Works for Solo Violin

Article excerpt

'Bach and Beyond, Part 1'

JS Bach Solo Violin Partitas--No 2, BWV1004; No 3, BWV1006 Mazzoli Dissolve, O my heart Saariaho Nocturne Ysaye Solo Violin Sonata, Op 27 No 2 Jennifer Koh vn Cedille (F) CDR90000 134 (79' * DDD)

The backbone of this programme is the combination of the two most musically demanding of Bach's Partitas--the second in D minor and the third in E--with Eugene Ysaye's Second Solo Sonata, one of a set of six written to honour his various influences, both compositionally and in performance. The Ysaye is most closely allied to the Third Partita and Jennifer Koh has programmed her beautifully played disc so its direct references and quotes stand so starkly next to its template that it's impossible to miss them.

That in itself is exciting and is one of the many beneficial things this performance does to illuminate what are, with the dense writing and remote expression of Saariaho's Nocturne and Missy Mazzoli's portentous Dissolve, O my heart, the darker corners of the repertoire for solo violin. However, these pieces need soul to ignite them in a way that the Bach Partitas do not, and it's hard not to see the identical levels of passion that Koh applies to these pieces as not only a lost opportunity for further exhilarating contrast but a misapprehension that their existence as, on the surface, mere dance movements is their fundamental mysterious strength--and that to exaggerate or amplify their subtleties of phrasing and harmonic direction can be interpreted as the theft of an element of their power. …

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