Back & Beyond, Jennifer Koh
Violinist Jennifer Koh brings her Bach and Beyond recital concept to CD with Bach & Beyond Part 1, released by Cedille Records. The album is the first in a three-part series of studio recordings based on her challenging and inventive recital series that explores the history of the solo violin repertoire from Bach's six Sonatas and Partitas to modern day composers including newly commissioned works. The album is currently available for digital download and will be available on CD on Tuesday, October 30.
The works on Bach & Beyond Part 1 include Bach's Partita No. 3 in E major, BWV 1006, Eugène Ysaÿe's Sonata No. 2 in A Minor, Op. 27, Kaija Saariaho's Nocturne, Missy Mazzoli's Dissolve, O My Heart – a world premiere recording – and Bach's Partita No. 2 in D minor, BWV 1004.
Ms. Koh is recognized for her bold performance style, dazzling virtuosity and technical assurance. She is forward-thinking in her approach to presenting classical music in a relatable, modern way and passionate about her instrument and performing works that speak to her. The exploration of Bach's music and its influence in today's musical landscape has played an important role in Ms. Koh's artistic journey. She explains the inspiration for her Bach and Beyond series in the preface to the CD liner notes: "I have always believed that music is a direct conversation and reflection of the world we live in. Having grown up in a time when many declared classical music a dead art form, I found it necessary to understand my commitment to this art form and why I believe classical music is relevant and meaningful to today's society. For me, contemporary music recreates the thread the connects us to past works of art and ultimately shapes how we listen to and perform music from all time periods…The Bach and Beyond project presents the Bach works I have long loved in communion with contemporary music by composers I am dedicated to."
"Music by J.S. Bach resonates throughout this first recording in the project," writes Alison Ames in the CD notes, adding, "The entire program itself is not unlike a very large-scale suite." Bach & Beyond Part 1 opens with Bach's Partita No. 3, a seven movement suite of dances, followed by Ysaÿe's second Sonata which begins with the tune that opens the Preludio of that Bach work, with the rest of the work largely based on the melody of the Dies Irae chant. Missy Mazzoli's Dissolve, O My Heart, titled after an aria in Bach's Saint John Passion, was commissioned for Ms. Koh by the Los Angeles Philharmonic. The piece begins on a resonant and evocative D minor chord – the same one that opens the Chaconne of Bach's Partita No. 2. Following Ms. Koh's 2011 premiere of the work, Los Angeles Times critic Mark Swed wrote, "Mazzoli's daunting ghost was the D minor Chaconne [of Bach's Partita No. 2]. She began with Bach's chord, then went her own way in a beautifully structured score…with compelling complexity, alluring sliding tones and an exquisite flamboyance designed for Koh's virtuosity. The performance was exciting, with horsehair, shorn from the violin bow, fluttering in the wind." Kaija Saariaho's Nocturne, in Memory of Witold Lutoslawski opens with the familiar notes of Bach's Partita No. 3, then "swirls and skitters around selected pitches, couched in a variety of tonal effects," wrote Art Lange in Fanfare in July 2000. Ms. Koh closes the album with Bach's Partita No. 2, with the celebrated Chaconne.