August 20, 2008
By David Stabler
Jennifer Koh's latest CD has two Oregon connections. On Nov. 22-24, the superb violinist plays Brahms' Violin Concerto with the Oregon Symphony. And the main work on her CD is by the American composer Jennifer Higdon, whose music Third Angle will play in May.
"String Poetic" offers four substantial American works: Higdon's
beautiful and absorbing title work, "String Poetic," Carl Ruggles'
acerbic "Mood," Lou Harrison's rousing "Grand Duo" and
John Adams' driving "Road Movies."
Higdon's 20-minute piece is terrific, its five varied movements opening with a 100-yard dash, followed by a soothing Nocturne that meditates in long, consoling notes. Higdon (b. 1962) isn't afraid to let chords hang in the air, creating quiet, yet powerful, moods. You don't want it to stop.
Born in Illinois and trained at the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music where she graduated in 2002, Koh is a natural in this music. Her tone draws the ear in and her agile rhythmic character energizes phrases. Reiko Uchida is her excellent partner at the piano.