Two x Four will be released on CD by Cedille Records on Tuesday, April 29. The album was released as a digital download on Tuesday, April 1, and is available at Cedille Records, Amazon.com, and iTunes. A video trailer for Two x Four can be viewed at youtu.be/Mn9p7YRpIAw (see below for stills).
Two x Four pays homage to Bach, whose music is a Koh touchstone, and the basis for her ongoing “Bach and Beyond” solo recitals and recordings that connect Bach with later composers. This new project expands the relatively sparse repertoire of double-violin concertos with newly commissioned works while celebrating the violinists’ mutual admiration. Ms. Koh holds special affection for Bach’s double-violin concerto. She first performed the late-Baroque masterpiece with Mr. Laredo while she was his student at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. “It has stayed with her as a reminder of the generous dialogue between student and mentor,” writes Katherine Bergstrom in the CD liner notes.
While Bach (1685–1750) wasn’t the first to write a double concerto, he pushed the boundaries of the form, introducing new ways for two solo violins to converse with each other and with the orchestra. In the first movement, the violins pass the melody and counter-melody back and forth, as if conversing. In the second, they take turns in lead and supporting roles. The fast-paced finale is akin to a frantic footrace, with one violin at the heels of the other while the orchestra has the final say.
Anna Clyne (b. 1980), a Chicago Symphony Orchestra composer–in-residence, wrote Prince of Clouds (2012), her first concerto, while contemplating the idea of musical lineage passing from one generation to the next. Ms. Clyne sees this time-honored process as “a beautiful gift.” The New York Times called Prince of Clouds “ravishing,” while the Chicago Tribune described it as “music one can listen to again and again and find new things to appreciate each time.”
Philip Glass (b. 1937) wrote Echorus (1995) for the fabled collaboration of violinists Yehudi Menuhin and his protégé Edna Mitchell, who commissioned works addressing the theme of universal human compassion. Echorus is a characteristically attractive, hypnotic, undulating Glass score.
A composer based at the Curtis Institute, David Ludwig (b. 1974) wrote his evocative Seasons Lost (2012) as a contemporary counterpart to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, informed by his concerns about climate change. Mr. Ludwig’s double-violin concerto is “full of beautiful ideas contrasting with playful/menacing Vivaldian gestures” (Philadelphia Inquirer).
Two x Four is Ms. Koh’s ninth recording for Cedille Records and Mr. Laredo’s Cedille label debut. Ms. Koh’s Bach & Beyond Part 1 (Cedille Records CDR 90000 134) was named a New York Times best classical recording of 2012. Her String Poetic (Cedille Records CDR 90000 103) was nominated for a Grammy award.