A New York Times 25 Best Classical Track Selection for 2019
Violinist Jennifer Koh’s Limitless, based on her groundbreaking recital project of the same name, bridges the modern divide between composer and instrumentalist, celebrates artistic collaboration, and revives the grand tradition of composers performing their own music. The album features world-premiere recordings of Koh-commissioned duets by a diverse roster of highly accomplished contemporary composers, which she performs with the composers themselves. Premieres include Quasim Naqvi’s The Banquet for violin and modular synthesizer, exploring a convergence between acoustic string and electronic sound worlds; Lisa Bielawa’s Sanctuary Songs for violin and voice,Read more three settings of texts by American women poets of the 1920s; Du Yun’s give me back my fingerprints for violin and voice, representative of what The New York Times calls her “adventurously eclectic” style; and Tyshawn Sorey’s In Memoriam Muhal Richard Abrams, dedicated to Sorey’s beloved mentor, the avant-garde pianist, composer, and founding president of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM). Limitless also offers the first recording of Nina C. Young’s Sun Propeller for violin and electronics, inspired by traditional Tuvan throat-singing; Wang Lu’s Her Latitude for violin and electronics, with a quasi-improvised piano part and electronically processed sounds of Buddhist chants and old Korean pop songs; and jazz luminary Vijay Iyer’s The Diamond for violin and piano, inspired by an early Buddhist text. The album concludes with Missy Mazzoli’s A Thousand Tongues for violin, piano, and electronics, an intense response to a line in a Stephen Crane poem; and Vespers for violin and electronics, “deliciously disorienting” (National Public Radio) with a soaring solo violin.
Koh, needless to say, is sensational throughout: responsive to each composer’s demands, and fiercely committed to making each piece sing true in collaboration with its creator. The project is a paradigm shift in thinking about composers who perform, and about representation on the concert platform; the result is a beautiful, compelling collection of intimate conversations and collective statements.
– National Sawdust
Part of Ms. Koh’s double-disc project of collaborations with composers who also perform alongside her, Du Yun: ‘Give Me Back My Fingerprints’ rises from quietly uneasy to rabid and raw, then back again. Violin lines emerge, as if from far away, to mingle with Ms. Du’s earthy, murmuring, sometimes choking voice.