All Classical Portland
By John Pitman
October 14, 2016
Jennifer Koh is a name – and face, and sound – that should be familiar to many Oregon Symphony fans. One of her earliest appearances was in 2008, playing the Brahms concerto with the orchestra, and she’s since returned to perform the Dvorak and Bartok concertos. I had the pleasure of hearing her perform more than once, and was impressed by her expressivity and technical prowess.
And no wonder. Ms. Koh won the Tchaikovsky competition in1994 where she played, naturally, the Tchaikovsky and Brahms concertos. Now here we are, twenty years on, and she has come back to a composer she says she’s always felt a great affinity for. As I mention in my recorded conversation, Jennifer Koh plays this music not only with technical proficiency, but feels very “comfortable” in this music. That makes listening to her interpretation of the Russian romantic’s works all the more enjoyable. I really appreciated that she arranged the music chronologically, rather than “top-down”: by hearing the earliest work, the Sérénade mélancolique, followed by the Valse-Scherzo and then the Violin Concerto, we hear the composer’s “autobiography”, as it were, as he expresses himself and works his way toward one of the greatest, most challenging, and exhilarating concertos in the repertoire. While some performances may not make a lasting impression, I believe that Jennifer Koh’s, does.
Tchaikovsky: Complete Works for Violin & Orchestra / Koh, Vedernikov, Odense Symphony
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