Modern American music
for violin and piano -
'... commanding fire and finesse ...'
Koh and Uchida add to their innovative, thoughtfully considered Cedille discography with exhilarating performances of three infrequently recorded American compositions plus one world première.
Be advised however, the subtitle '21st Century perspective' is somewhat misleading -- all but one of the four featured works were written in the 20th century though one had its origins back in 1918.
The exception is Jennifer Higdon's opening work, a world première (written for Koh) from which the CD, String Poetic, takes its title.
Listen -- Jennifer Higdon: Nocturne (String Poetic)
(track 2, 2:13-3:20) © 2008 Cedille Records
Higdon (born 1963, Brooklyn), gained her Artist's Diploma from the Curtis Institute of Music, where she studied with David Loeb. Then she obtained a master's and a doctoral degree in composition (University of Pennsylvania) under the tutelage of George Crumb.
She is understood to be today's most performed living American composer; a recipient of awards including a Pew Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and two awards from the American Academy of Arts & Letters. The Telarc release of Higdon's Concerto for Orchestra / City Scape won a Grammy award in 2005. And at last count 150 orchestras had programmed her blue cathedral (2000).
Among her recent commissions are works for The Philadelphia Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, Chicago Symphony, St Paul Chamber Orchestra, the new-music sextet 'eighth blackbird', Tokyo String Quartet, and Ying Quartet. Upcoming projects include a new violin concerto for Hilary Hahn. Higdon is now Composer in Residence with the Philadelphia Orchestra, beside which she teaches composition at the Curtis Institute.
Her arresting five-movement String Poetic (2006) has a variety of fascinating forms, sometimes within each movement. It sets out with the inescapably abrasive, propulsive, hard-nosed 'Jagged Climb'; offset in a breath-stopping sorrowful 'Nocturne'.
Copyright © 2 July 2008
Howard Smith, Masterton, New Zealand