By Wynne Delacoma
Classical Music Critic
Chicago Sun-Times


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Violinist Jennifer Koh brings the same fresh eye and ear to her recording projects that she applies to her live performances.

In 2003, her first release on Chicago-based Cedille Records was a set of solo chaconnes from two early 20th century composers, Max Reger and Richard Barth, paired with Bach's famous Partita No. 2 with its monumental and mesmerizing chaconne movement. She also has recorded Gian Carlo Menotti's Concerto for Violin and Orchestra for Chandos records.

Koh's most recent Cedille release, "Fantasies,'' issued last year, takes an in-depth look at fantasies for violin and piano by Schubert, Schumann, Schoenberg and jazz saxophonist Ornette Coleman. Reiku Uchida is her sensitive pianist collaborator in these relatively free-form musical experiments.

After the pristine but warm-toned and passionate Schubert and Schumann fantasies, both in C Major, Schoenberg's more angular "Phantasy'' from 1949 is bracing but never jarring. Koh finds a lyrical undercurrent in the music that makes the work sound mysteriously beautiful and coherent. Coleman's "Trinity'' -- Fantasy for Solo Violin is darkly melodic with a hint of Middle Eastern flavor.