The Whole Note
By Terry Robbins
26 November 2009

Rhapsodic Musings - 21st Century works for solo violin

Jennifer Koh has produced another outstanding CD with “Rhapsodic Musings”. I’ve commented before on Koh’s intelligent and imaginative programming, and this CD is no exception, Koh noting that the recording was born out of her search for “a sense of meaning” in the aftermath of the events of September 11, 2001.

There are four outstanding works here: Elliott Carter’s suite Four Lauds, completed in 2000, includes one movement from 1984 and two from 1999, making the CD’s sub-title somewhat inaccurate; Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Lachen Verlernt from 2002 has an accompanying video by Tal Rosner; Augusta Read-Thomas’s Pulsar (2002) is a short piece bursting with energy. The longest work is John Zorn’s Goetia, written for Koh in 2002; its eight short movements each repeat exactly the same sequence of 227 pitches, although the possibilities for transposition and the huge variations in note speed, tempo, dynamics, tonal colour and technique make this virtually impossible to tell.

Koh is in her usual magnificent form in these essential and significant additions to a highly demanding performing genre.