Jennifer Koh

Limitless

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Violinist Jennifer Koh has long been a champion of contemporary music, but she breaks new ground with Limitless, an album on which she performs in duets of various kinds with composers of the works involved. All the composers are women, people of color, or both, and all are in modernist idioms, with electronics involved in many cases. Your reaction may well depend on your basic level of sympathy with the techniques involved, but from a purely technical point of view, Koh's accomplishment is substantial. Her violin is called upon to do quite a few things over the course of this album, and she puts it through its changes impressively. Sample the two pieces: Tyshawn Sorey's In Memoriam Muhal Richard Abrams, for violin and glockenspiel, which is delicate and subtle, and Nina C. Young's Sun Propeller, based not so much on Tuvan throat singing but the idea of filtered sunlight that inspired its practitioners Huun-Huur-Tu, which calls for the violin to execute fricative sounds. Koh's status among composers is attested to by the prestige of the composers involved; they include MacArthur fellow and jazz-classical pianist Vijay Iyer. Try this out even if you're not inclined toward the genre involved. The album is genuinely innovative and has a sharp edge.

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