By Bradley Bambarger
New Jersey Star-Ledger
June 13, 2006
Violinist Jennifer Koh is an intrepid sort, with chops to match. The Illinois-bred New Yorker's concerto repertoire includes not only Tchaikovsky but Ligeti, and she's recorded solo Bach and Reger, as well as fantasies from Schubert to Ornette Coleman. Her latest album, recorded live with Chicago's Grant Park Orchestra in the city's Harris Theater (the first commercial disc
Karol Szymanowski wrote some of the last century's most sensuous scores, with the Pole's Violin Concerto No. 1 of 1916 prime among them. The solo violin part is like a ribbon spinning in the wind; with her sleek, whispering tone,
Bohuslav Martinu wrote several great symphonies that aren't heard nearly often enough; his concertante works are heard even less. Koh makes clear that his First Violin Concerto of 1943 is an absorbing
Bela Bartók's early "Portrait" No. 1 (recast from the first movement of the Hungarian's First Violin Concerto) is an intense, 10-minute meditation, which Koh brings off with concentrated lyricism. The live recordings have been edited seamlessly, with the audience virtually excised.