October 17, 2018
Violinist Jennifer Koh’s Latest Album, "Saariaho X Koh," To Be Released by Cedille Records, November 9

Album comprises five works by Kaija Saariaho, including violin concerto Graal théâtre and world-premiere recordings of Light and Matter and Aure (violin-and-cello version)

NEW YORK, NEW YORK (October 17, 2018) — Violinist Jennifer Koh showcases chamber works and a violin concerto by Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho on her new album Saariaho X Koh, from Cedille Records, to be released on November 9. Pre-orders are available here.

World-premiere recordings on Saariaho X Koh are Light and Matter for violin, cello, and piano and the violin-and-cello version of Aure. The program also includes the aforementioned Tocar for violin and piano; Cloud Trio for violin, viola, and cello; and the violin concerto Graal théâtre, performed in its chamber-orchestra version.

A close friend and collaborator whose music Ms. Koh has long championed, Ms. Saariaho was present for the recording of each piece on the album, which represents a joint artistic effort of performer and composer. Ms. Koh is joined on the album by pianist Nicolas Hodges, violist Hsin-Yun Huang, cellists Anssi Karttunen and Wilhelmina Smith, and, for Graal théâtre, the Curtis 20/21 Ensemble, conducted by Conner Gray Covington.

“Kaija’s music has a particular resonance for me, which I realized as soon as I heard it,” says Ms. Koh. “There’s a sense of internal exploration in every piece, an emotional journey within a complex structure.”*

All works on the recording reflect Ms. Saariaho’s longstanding collaborations with string players, including Ms. Koh and Mr. Karttunen; an intimate knowledge of string technique, the violin being the composer’s first instrument; and a compositional voice “marked by its timbral colors,” as Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti writes in the album’s liner notes.

The recording's opening track, Tocar (2010), Spanish for “to touch,” explores the playful and tactile aspects of the word. Cloud Trio (2009) was prompted by shape-shifting clouds in the French Alps. Light and Matter (2014) was inspired by sunlit colors and shadows in a city park outside the composer’s window. The violin-and-cello version of Aure (2011), meaning a gentle breeze, was created for and dedicated to Ms. Koh and Mr. Karttunen. The album’s largest work, Graal théâtre (1994) is the piece that first attracted Ms. Koh to the composer and one she has performed many times around the world. She says:

“[Graal théâtre] starts with a kind of cloud of vague sounds and certain themes keep on returning throughout the 25-minute work, echoing in the piano, glockenspiel and harp. It’s like a haunting presence, a kind of meditative return to a rhythmic centre. Kaija’s emotional language is unique and extraordinary, and in Graal it feels like there’s a world of possibilities that gradually open up to you.”*

Saariaho X Koh is Ms. Koh’s twelfth recording for Cedille Records and was produced by multiple Grammy winner Judith Sherman, with recording engineers Drew Schlegel and Guillaume Dujardin. The album was recorded October 31, 2016, in the Miriam and Robert Gould Rehearsal Hall, Curtis School of Music, Philadelphia; December 11, 2016, at the American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York; and November 25-26, 2017, at Studios Ferber, Paris. The recording will be available as a physical CD; 96-kHz, 24-bit, studio-quality FLAC download; and 320-Kbps MP3 download.

Ms. Saariaho’s music also appears on Ms. Koh’s two Bach and Beyond albums for Cedille Records—Nocturne on Part 1 and Frises on Part 2. Additional past collaborations between Ms. Koh and Ms. Saariaho include a commission for Ms. Koh’s Shared Madness project, Sense for solo violin, which was premiered in 2016.

Violinist Jennifer Koh is recognized for intense, commanding performances, delivered with dazzling virtuosity and technical assurance. A forward-thinking artist, she is dedicated to exploring a broad and eclectic repertoire, while promoting diversity and inclusivity in classical music. She has expanded the contemporary violin repertoire through a wide range of commissioning projects, and has premiered more than 70 works written especially for her. Her quest for the new and unusual, sense of endless curiosity, and ability to lead and inspire a host of multidisciplinary collaborators truly set her apart.

Ms. Koh was named Musical America’s 2016 Instrumentalist of the Year, was a winner in the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow and Concert Artists Guild Competition, and received an Avery Fisher Career Grant. Born in Chicago, She has a BA in English literature from Oberlin College and studied at the Curtis Institute, where she worked extensively with Jaime Laredo and Felix Galimir. She is an active lecturer, teacher, and recording artist for Cedille Records; and is the Artistic Director of arco collaborative, an artist-driven nonprofit that fosters a better understanding of our world through a musical dialogue inspired by ideas and the communities around us. For further information, visit jenniferkoh.com.

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Jennifer Koh, violin


1. Tocar (6:51)
Nicolas Hodges, piano

Cloud Trio (13:30)
Hsin-Yun Huang, viola
Wilhelmina Smith, cello
2. I. Calmo, meditato (2:32)
3. II. Sempre dolce, ma energico, sempre a tempo (3:22)
4. III. Sempre energico (2:33)
5. IV. Tranquillo ma sempre molto espressivo (5:01)

6. Light and Matter (13:53) — world-premiere recording
Anssi Karttunen, cello
Nicolas Hodges, piano

7. Aure (5:47) — first recording of violin-and-cello version
Anssi Karttunen, cello

Graal théâtre (27:40)
Curtis 20/21 Ensemble
Conner Gray Covington, conductor
8. I. Delicato (17:20)
9. II. Impetuoso (10:19)

Total timing: 68:06

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For press copies, please contact:

Shuman Associates
shumanpr@shumanassociates.net | (212) 315-1300

*Strings magazine (Apr. 17, 2018)

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