By Erin Cano
November 26, 2012
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The Singing Rooms

Album review: violinist Jennifer Koh conquers
"Bach & Beyond Part 1"

Chicago native Jennifer Koh's Bach & Beyond Part 1 (released by Cedille Records) is the first in a three-part series of recordings based on her critically acclaimed "Bach and Beyond" recital series which explores the history of the solo violin repertoire.

Bach & Beyond Part 1 includes J. S. Bach's Partita No. 3 in E major, BWV 1006; Eugène Ysaÿe’s Sonata No. 2, Op. 27; Kaija Saariaho's Nocturne, Missy Mazzoli's Dissolve, O My Heart; and Bach's Partita No. 2 in D Minor. BWV 1004. The Ysaÿe, Saariaho, and Mazzoli each contain quotations from one or both of the Bach works.

Koh's tone in the Bach E Major Partita sparkles like sunlight on a lake. Eugene Ysaÿe’s Sonata No. 2 opens with a quotation of Bach's E Major partita, causing one to wonder if the album has skipped back to the first track. A few notes later, a jagged atonal sequence assures the listener that he is indeed in Ysaÿe-land. Koh weaves a delicate spider's web of harmonics and translucent tones in Kaija Saariaho's Nocturne. By contrast, she explores the earthy sonority of the violin's open strings in Missy Mazzoli's Dissolve, O My Heart. The album closes with a straightforward but masterful performance of J. S. Bach's Partita No. 2.

Bach & Beyond Part 1 is available both for digital download on iTunes and on CD. Erin Cano's full review of this album is available on TheContrapuntist.com.

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