Kent Blossom Music Festival: Kulas Guest Artist Jennifer Koh (June 28)

Jennifer Koh
Cleveland Classical

By Mike Telin

There are many reasons to admire violinist Jennifer Koh. She possesses virtuosic technique, an impressive bow-arm, impeccable intonation, a tonal palette worthy of a master-painter, and she has an astute understanding of complex musical structures. Above all, her musical decisions are always intelligent and thoughtful. These attributes were on display when the dynamic violinist performed a recital on Wednesday, June 28 in Ludwig Hall as part of the Kent Blossom Music Festival.

Her Kulas Guest Artist’s program featured four demanding unaccompanied works. Beginning with Bach’s Sonata No. 2 in a, Koh quickly established a “wow” factor with her controlled playing of the opening Grave. Her transitions during the Fuga were beautiful, and she tossed off the many thorny sting crossings with ease in her sweet interpretation of the Andante. Her perfectly balanced harmonic line gave way to a fiery account of the concluding Allegro.

The second half of the program was dedicated to a single work, Bach’s Partita No. 2 in d. The violinist perfectly captured the individual spirit of the four dance movements, creating lovely echoes in the Allemande, and going on to shape a lively Corrente, a meditative Sarabande and an impressively agile Gigue. Taking a winning approach to the Chaconne, Koh acknowledged its monumentality. Beginning it at a good clip, the violinist allowed the musical lines to unfurl naturally with a minimum of intervention. It was Bach who created its grand arch, but Koh brought it to life with both reverence and coherence. The sotto voce section following the return of the original theme was an edge-of-your-seats moment.

Read the full review here.