The Buffalo News
By Mary Kunz Goldman
November 17, 2015
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Elgar, Bax and a tough violin concerto bring color to the BPO

Jennifer Koh, the violinist soloing with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra on Nov. 20 and 21, is quite the musician. She gave recital in Buffalo with piano five years ago, and people who were there still remember her virtuosity. “She plays in long lines, like a singer who doesn’t need to take a breath.” That was what I wrote at the time. “Her bow sails gently over the strings of that creamy-toned 1727 Strad. Except when she really attacks the music, as she does sometimes. Then it sparks and hisses.”

Drama should be in store when she joins the BPO and Music Director JoAnn Falletta for the Violin Concerto of Carl Nielsen. This is a demanding piece. Its difficulty could be one reason we don’t hear it more often. According to the BPO archives, the only time it ever appeared on the Classics series was in 1995, with Cho-Liang Lin as soloist. The music is athletic and neo-Classical and scholars see it as pointing toward Stravinsky. Falletta calls it a “jewel of a concerto.” Fasten your seat belts, sit back and enjoy.

The concert opens with “Tintagel” by British composer Sir Arnold Bax. It’s brief but colorful, brimming with pageantry.

And after intermission, it will be time to bask in the glorious “Enigma” Variations by another knight, Sir Edward Elgar. If you’re new to this music, you really don’t need to know what Elgar meant by “Enigma,” which after all remains something of a mystery. Just know that Elgar created these variations as gentle tributes to the people in his life – including his wife, his publisher and friends. The ninth variation, “Nimrod,” has a soaring, transcendent beauty and is often heard in movies and performed on its own. Longtime BPO listeners might remember that Falletta and the BPO made the impromptu decision to perform it in 2001 after the World Trade Center attacks.

The concert takes place at 10:30 a.m. Nov. 20 and 8 p.m. Nov. 21. Tickets are $34.50-$86.50. Call 885-5000.


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