Andrew Norman takes the most literal approach to his ‘Beethoven bridges'

03.31.16
Jennifer Koh & Shai Wosner
The Examiner

Last night, however, was the only program in the series organized around a single Beethoven publication. Performing (as on all the other programs) with pianist Shai Wosner, Koh wisely chose to present the three sonatas published as Beethoven’s Opus 30 as a single unit. These were all written between 1801 and 1802, published in 1803, and dedicated to Emperor Alexander I of Russia. The commissioned composer for this program, Andrew Norman, decided to respond in kind, taking on the full collection as his object of attention. He wrote three cadenza-like pieces under the collective title “Bridging,” which of which provided a transition from the conclusion of one Beethoven sonata to the beginning of another.

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Koh and Wosner continued to present themselves as an excellently-paired duo. Wosner maintained his impeccable judgment in his choice of dynamic levels, never trying to hide the technical display in Beethoven’s keyboard writing but always keeping it in its proper place. Similarly, Koh was always focused on her balance with Wosner through the full gamut of expressiveness, whether it involved aggressive bowing or a serenely cantabile rhetorical delivery.

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