By Peter Margasak
A consummate musician who often wraps her new work with standard repertoire, Glen Ellyn native Jennifer Koh is one of the most skilled and satisfying violinists in classical music—in part because of the way she bridges it with modern works. On her recent recital recording Bach & Beyond Part 2 (Cedille), one of three, she bookends Béla Bartók’s gripping, modernist Sonata for Solo Violin and Kaija Saariaho’s astringent contemporary “Frises” with Bach’s Sonata no. 1 and Partita no. 1, both for solo violin. As with the other two in the “Bach and Beyond” series, the album is meant to illuminate connections between past and present, and she’ll follow a similar format tonight. Performing with pianist Shai Wosner, Koh will play a Beethoven Sonata for Violin and Piano (nos. 1 and 9) on either side of the local premiere of “Bridgetower Fantasy” by pianist and jazz metamusician Vijay Iyer, who’s demonstrated a great feel for long-form compositions. Koh’s strong rapport with Wosner can be heard on the terrific 2013 album Signs, Games and Messages (Cedille), on which the pair traverse 20th-century pieces by Bartók, Janácek, and Kurtág with a mixture of pin-drop sensitivity, tonal richness, and immaculate timing.
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