VIOLINIST JENNIFER KOH’S BACH & BEYOND PART 2 TO BE RELEASED BY CEDILLE RECORDS ON MAY 12; Album Features Composer “Firsts” Including Solo Works by J.S. Bach and Béla Bartók, and World-Premiere Recording of Kaija Saariaho’s Frises for Solo Violin and Electronics

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Album Features Composer “Firsts” Including Solo Works by J.S. Bach and Béla Bartók,
and World-Premiere Recording of Kaija Saariaho’s
Frises for Solo Violin and Electronics

April 27, 2015 — Jennifer Koh’s Bach & Beyond Part 2 – the second installment in her three-part series of studio recordings linking J.S. Bach’s landmark violin sonatas and partitas from the early 1700s to contemporary works – features solo violin “firsts” by Bach, Béla Bartók, and Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho.

Bach & Beyond Part 2 includes Bach’s first work for solo violin, Sonata No. 1 in G Minor, BWV 1001, and his first exploration of the partita form, Partita No. 1 in B Minor, BWV 1002; Bartók’s first and only work for solo violin, his Bach-inspired Sonata for Solo Violin Sz. 117, BB 124; and the world-premiere recording of Ms. Saariaho’s Frises, her first large-scale work for solo violin and electronics, which has its own Bach connection. The album will be released May 12 as a two-CD set priced as a single CD, and as a digital download (Cedille Records CDR 90000 154).

Ms. Koh’s Bach & Beyond recordings on Cedille are based on her multi-season recital series of the same name. In an introductory essay in the CD booklet Ms. Koh says each installment is intended to “strengthen the connection between our past and present worlds through a historical journey” from Bach’s sonatas and partitas to contemporary and newly commissioned works. Each album opens and closes with a Bach Sonata or Partita. “My Bach & Beyond project presents the works of Bach that I have long loved, in communion with the music of contemporary composers whom I am dedicated to championing,” Ms. Koh writes.

Bach & Beyond Part 2 opens with Bach’s Sonata No. 1 in G Minor, the most frequently performed work among the six Sonatas and Partitas in the cycle. It is also, perhaps, “the most immediately gripping,” writes Patrick Castillo in the liner notes. “Here we have music of startling expressive power.”

Bartók composed his Sonata for Solo Violin in 1944 for Yehudi Menuhin after hearing the violinist perform Bach’s Sonata No. 3 in C Major. “Bach’s specter haunts Bartok’s Sonata throughout its four movements,” Mr. Castillo observes. Bartok proceeds to expand the instrument’s expressive capabilities with microtones and pizzicato, “leading the listener forward to new possibilities and developments in solo violin composition,” Ms. Koh writes.

Ms. Saariaho’s Frises (2011) is a work for violin and electronics that sometimes sounds like the violinist is playing an eerie duet with herself. She composed Frises for violinist Richard Schmoucler, who wanted a work to follow the Chaconne of Bach’s Partita No. 2 in D Minor. “Using the Chaconne’s final D as its point of departure, Frises launches the listener into an otherworldly soundscape of violin harmonics, electronic bells, and other aural fascinations,” Mr. Castillo writes.  Ms. Saariaho included an electronic dimension “to expand the ideas and possibilities of the instrument,” the composer writes on her website. “In general and in accordance with the score, prepared sound materials are set off by the musician during the piece. These materials are completed by real-time transformations of the violin sounds.” Ms. Koh gave the work its U.S. premiere on February 6, 2014, at New York’s Miller Theatre.  In an innovative programming twist, Ms. Koh performed the piece twice during her New York concert, immediately before and after intermission, to give the audience an additional opportunity to absorb its mysterious textures. Composer and multimedia artist Jean-Baptiste Barrière, who formerly led Paris’s electronic-music mecca IRCAM, handled “realization of the electronics” (his description) at all three concert performances and at Cedille’s recording sessions. At the concerts, electronic sounds triggered by the violinist emanated from speakers placed around the hall. At the recording sessions, Ms. Koh monitored the electronics through headphones as she played the violin score. The electronics were added to the master recording in post-production. Ms. Koh performs Frises again on May 21, 2015 at the Royal Conservatory of Music’s Koerner Hall in Toronto.

Bach & Beyond Part 2 was produced and engineered by Adam Abeshouse at sessions April 20–21, 2014, at Westchester Studios, New York; and June 4–5, June 10–12, and July 14–16, 2014, at The Performing Arts Center, Purchase College, State University of New York, Purchase, N.Y.

Ms. Koh’s Bach & Beyond series on Cedille Records debuted in 2012 with Bach & Beyond Part 1, offering Bach’s second and third Partitas, Eugène Ysaÿe’s Sonata No. 2, Kaija Saariaho’s Nocturne, and Missy Mazzoli’s Dissolve O My Heart. The New York Times named it one of the best classical music recordings of 2012 for its “alluring performances” and it was chosen as a “CD of the Week” by the Chicago Tribune, which called it an “absorbing program” by a violinist of “sovereign technical command and probing musicality.”  New Jersey’s Star-Ledger said, “She brings intelligence and nuance to each distinctive style and sounds effortless through all technical obstacles.” Bach & Beyond Part 2 is Ms. Koh’s tenth Cedille Records album, joining a discography that includes the Grammy-nominated String Poetic. For further information visit Ms. Koh’s website,

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CD 1
J.S. Bach (1685-1750)
Sonata No. 1 in G Minor, BWV 1001 (15:33)
1. I.  Adagio (3.52)
2.  II. Fuga (5:18)
3.  III.  Siciliana (2:58)
4.  IV.  Presto (3:24)

Béla Bartók (1881-1945)
Sonata for Solo Violin Sz. 117, BB 124 (25:02)
5.  I.  Tempo di ciaccona (8:24)
6.  II.  Fuga (4:21)
7.  III.  Melodia (7:05)
8.  IV.  Presto (5:10)

CD 2
Kaija Saariaho (b. 1952)
Frises (21:15)
1. I.  Frise Jaune (3:56)
2.  II.  Frise de Fleur (5:55)
3.  III.  Pavage (7:27)
4.  IV.  Frise Grise (3:55)

J.S. Bach
Partita No. 1 in B Minor, BWV 1002 (29:11)
5.  I.  Allemanda (5:23)
6.  II.  Double (3:41)
7.  III.  Corrente (3:15)
8.  IV.  Double (3:22)
9.  V.  Sarabande (3:17)
10. VI.  Double (3:06)
11.  VII. Tempo di Borea (3:29)
12 VIII.  Double (3:34)

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