Cassatt String Quartet, New Paths Ensemble/David Alan Miller, Cho-Liang Lin (violin) Elebash Recital Hall

Cho-Liang Lin
The Strad

By Bruce Hodges

Some poor decisions in publicising this one-day festival of Nordic composers, combined with a withering heat wave, resulted in a meagre audience for a stunning performance by Cho-Liang Lin in a new Violin Concerto by Jukka Tiensuu. In prefatory remarks, David Alan Miller (the engaging young conductor of the Albany Symphony Orchestra) joked about the rhythmic challenges of navigating page after page in 15/8 metre. Then he and the New Paths Ensemble dug into Tiensuu’s imaginative sound world with alertness and virtuosity to spare, while Lin deployed Sibelian warmth coupled with spot-on intonation. In one particularly riveting passage, Lin converged with violinists Sunghae Anna Lim and David Fulmer, all using the shimmering stratosphere of their E-strings in a perfectly balanced chorale. And just prior to the quiet ending, Lin was transfixing in an elaborate cadenza.??

The generous evening in Elebash Recital Hall—with too many composers to cover here—began with the Cassatt String Quartet in Stefan Pontinen’s new Third String Quartet, an intriguingly constructed melange of clicks, tremolos and grinding sul ponticello passages. Afterwards came Lasse Thoresen’s Pyr Aionion (Eternal Fire), which opens with mournful, sweeping phrases that gradually ascend in pitch to an intense climax. Confident playing aside, there is much to be said for a group that has fully internalised such challenging recent works.