Milwaukee Symphony, Jennifer Koh combine for a show of grace and power

Jennifer Koh
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

From introspective string sounds to a bold violin concerto and richly Romantic symphonic writing, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra brought expressive interpretations to three very different pieces of music Friday evening.

Led by MSO music director Edo de Waart, the program featured guest violinist Jennifer Koh performing the Bartok Concerto No. 2 for Violin and Orchestra.

Koh gave an intense, dramatic performance of the concerto, blending the melodic simplicity of its folk elements with the musical complexity of 12-tone writing that remains stubbornly tonal, and some searing virtuosity.

Koh played with absolute conviction, vivid musical arcs and a constant drive that swept the listener through the piece. De Waart and the orchestra played as though continuing Koh's thoughts and intentions, telling their part of the musical story with ever-changing textures and hues, and constant grace and focus.

Blending sounds and reacting to one another nimbly, the ensemble made transparent lines and big, bass-anchored moments alike sound like well-played chamber music.
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