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The Week in Reviews, Op. 60: Grammy Nominations, plus Jennifer Koh, Mayuko Kamio in Concert. And, 'The Cough'

Robert Niles

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Published: December 9, 2014 at 8:43 PM [UTC]

First, congratulations to Hilary Hahn, Jennifer Koh, and Jaime Laredo, whose performances were among those honored with nominations in this year's Grammy Awards. Hahn was nominated for "Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance" for "In 27 Pieces - The Hilary Hahn Encores." Composer Anna Clyne was nominated in the "Best Contemporary Classical Composition" category for "Prince of Clouds," which was performed by Koh and Laredo. The Grammys will be awarded in Los Angeles on Feb. 8.

Jennifer Koh and Jaime Laredo
Jennifer Koh and Jaime Laredo. Photo by Juergen Frank.

Here is our previous coverage of these recordings:

On to the reviews! In an effort to promote the coverage of live violin performance, each week presents links to reviews of notable concerts and recitals around the world.

Jennifer Koh performed the Bach, as well as Anna Clyne's "Rest These Hands," with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra.

  • The New York Times: "The consoling shadow of Bach looms large in the first movement (of the Clyne piece), reflected in a series of unaccompanied agitated arpeggios and searching scales, which Ms. Koh played with robust refinement. But there are also very contemporary, keening slides that glide through the microtones in between the notes of the regular scale, as if searching for signs of life between the cracks of the physical world."

Mayuko Kamio performed Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 5 with the Symphony Silicon Valley.

  • San Jose Mercury News: "This was a performance of balance and charm, from the first measures of her adagio entrance, seamlessly blending with the whispering strings and translucent wind chords."
  • San Francisco Classical Voice: "What made this performance fine was not Kamio’s sound quality but her phrasing. Especially in the Adagio, the sophisticated caress she gave to Mozart’s deceptively simple-looking melodic line was heart-warming while still well within the bounds of civilized restraint. The solo seemed to go on a long time: It could have gone on longer."

Michael Ludwig performed the Sibelius with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.

  • Buffalo News: "He owned that concerto. He had it down pat and played it with a lot of feeling, but as if it gave him no technical trouble at all. His articulation was spot on."

Philippe Quint performed the Khachaturian with the San Diego Symphony.

  • U-T San Diego: "He stayed right there in an interpretation that was percussive when it needed to be, but also brought out the score’s at times unexpected lyricism."

Frank Peter Zimmermann performed the Sibelius with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

  • The Age: "Zimmermann's playing was brilliantly deft, agile and golden-toned but perhaps most important to the memorability of this performance was the musical intelligence with which he set out the structure, in a work whose very subject matter is elusiveness. The haunting opening theme had clarity like light through mist, while the secondary theme, which starts in the woodwind beneath a violin countermelody, crept up on the listener like a thought that insinuates and dominates."

Huang Bin performed the Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra.

  • The Star: "That evening, Huang was clearly in her element as she brought us on a musical journey lasting just over 10 minutes with Butterfly Lovers."

Rossitza Goza performed the Mendelssohn with the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra.

  • Tulsa World: "This was a performance virtually without flaw, with Goza handling the rapid passagework of the first movement with brilliance and precision, then bringing a marvelous voice-like phrasing and wonderful balance of passion and restraint to the soulful melodies of the second movement, before taking on the joyous, skittering fiddling and happily burbling tunes of the finale."

Peter Winograd performed Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 4 with the Pueblo Symphony Orchestra.

  • The Pueblo Chieftain: "The Juilliard alumnus put on a dazzling performance that literally stunned the audience as well as some of the orchestra."

Alexander Sitkovetsky performed the Sibelius with the Brussels Philharmonic Orchestra.

  • Keighley News: "The only regular piece was the concerto, Sibelius' Violin Concerto, which received a shatteringly magnificent performance from a little-known Russian violinist, Alexander Sitkovetsky, but who will be returning in February next year with the Tchaikovsky in Leeds."

Kyung-Wha Chung returned to the London stage after 12 years, performing works by Bach, Mozart and Franck in recital, but all anyone was talking about was the coughing.

  • The Guardian: "...she certainly wasn’t relaxed. Exasperated by an avalanche of adult coughing between movements, Chung calmly upbraided some parents for bringing along a young child who dared to cough too....I can’t remember the first half of a concert ever feeling this tense."
  • The Telegraph: "The packed audience was not disappointed. Chung gave a recital in which every note was brim-full of her impetuous, intense personality."
  • We took a vote, "The last time I had to cough at a classical concert, I..." It seems that most people try to hold it until the end of the movement or piece, but sometimes, you just have to cough!

Please support live music in your community by attending a concert or recital whenever you can! But, uh, try not to cough, okay? ;)

From Corwin Slack
Posted on December 9, 2014 at 9:39 PM
I was in the audience for Jennifer Koh's performance with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra in Carnegie Hall. I enjoyed it immensely especially the quicksilver tempo of the finale of the Bach.

It was my first ever visit to Carnegie Hall. The acoustics are phenomenal! I heard the first half from row three and the second half from the back just under the balcony. I cannot imagine a better venue for a violin soloist to perform.

From Emily Dunnan
Posted on December 9, 2014 at 11:07 PM
I'm so glad to know that Kyung-Wha Chung plays the works of "Back" as well as Mozart and Franck! I believe Back's work is making a come back. Back in the day it was incredible. :)
From Laurie Niles
Posted on December 10, 2014 at 3:35 AM
Oh for heaven's sake. Dang you, auto-correct! Sorry about the typo.

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