The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Sequels come to classical music – centuries after the originals

September 8, 2016
Leave a Comment

By Jacob Stockinger

Sequels are not just for books, movies and Broadway shows any more.

Classical music is also starting to generate them — centuries after the originals.

It may be hard to imagine writing sequels to masterpiece sonatas, chamber music, symphonies and concertos by Johann Sebastian Bach, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, Igor Stravinsky and others.

But in a kind of musical postmodernism, that’s what is being done with more and more frequency.

The composer Timo Andres (below top, in a photo by Tawny Bannister for The New York Times) wrote a piano concerto based on Beethoven for the great young American pianist Jonathan Biss (below bottom), who has performed with the Madison Symphony Orchestra. Biss, along with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, has commissioned five piano concertos in the spirit of Beethoven’s five piano concertos.

Timo Andres CR Tawni Bannister NYT


And the great young American violinist Jennifer Koh (below top, in a  photo by Loren Wohl for The New York Times) and her equally terrific recording partner, pianist Shai Wosner (below bottom) – who has performed several times in Madison with the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra — have commissioned three sonatas based on the work of older composers from three modern composers.

Jennifer Koh CR Loren Wohl NYT

Shai Wosner

But musicians and especially modern composers, including the important composer John Adams (below), have mixed feelings about such derivative projects.

john adams with pencil

Here is a fine story about the phenomenon of sequels that appeared in The New York Times:

Classical music: Meet Jennifer Koh – a native Midwesterner and one of the best, most interesting and most accomplished violinists on the scene today.

January 25, 2013
Leave a Comment

By Jacob Stockinger

To The Ear, this seems a particularly promising time for young violinists, and especially for young women violinists such as Julia Fischer, Lelia Josefowicz, Lisa Batiashvili, Janine Jansen and Hilary Hahn.

But among all those violinists and their prodigious amounts of talent, one in particular stands out as unique: Jennifer Koh (below, in a photo by Christopher Berkey for The New York Times).

Jennifer Koh 2 Christopher Berkey for NY Times

An American of Korean heritage who was born in Chicago, Kho is an international competition winner who also came into a career in professional music somewhat via the back door, which has only deepened her music-making and her interpretations. Koh is anything but predictable and mainstream or traditional. A master of the old classics, she is also devoted to new music.

Her breadth of interests and her open personality show in her intense and exciting playing. We in Madison are lucky that the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra and its music director-conductor Andrew Sewell booked her to perform the Beethoven Violin Concerto early on, in 2004 before word got out and she became so in demand. (Below, a photo by Karsten Moran for The New York Times.)

Jennifer Koh, Karsten Moran for NY Times

Kohn has made many acclaimed recordings. But the first CD (below) in her three-volume series of “Bach and Beyond” (for the non-profit, Chicago-based label Cedille Records) made many critics’ lists of The Best Classical Recordings of 2012” – including mine. (At bottom, she discusses the project.)

Jennifer Koh Bach and Beyond CD1 cover

I had been a waiting for a Q&A from Jennifer Koh. But she is obviously busy with more important things like playing the violin and, one suspects, reading serious English literature (you have to know her background to understand the reference!).

Jennifer Koh Christopher Berkey for NY TImes

All the more reason, then, to read the excellent profile that appeared recently in The New York Times.

Here is a link to that detailed but readable and very accessible profile that leaves you wondering: How can you not like Jennifer Koh?:

Classical music: Got a holiday gift card or Christmas cash to spend? Here are the choice picks of classical music in 2012 by the New York Times – with an emphasis on new artists, niche labels and smaller name performers.

December 26, 2012

By Jacob Stockinger

So, did you get a gift card for the holidays?

Perhaps some extra cash to spend?

Earlier, I offered several holiday gift-giving guides, including a list from The New York Times music critics that listed CDs, DVDs and books that represented the Best of 2012.


Here is a link to that posting and to the other gift guides that appeared here:

But it turns out that was only the first installment, a down payment, if you will from The New York Times.

Here are many more recordings by such fine Ne wyork Tikes critics as Anthony Tommasini, Vivien Schweitzer, Zachery Woolfe, Corinna da Fonseca-Wolheim and James Oestreich (whose choices were absent from the previous list, as I recall.)

The choices cover virtually all genres of music – symphony orchestra, opera, solo piano and solo violin, vocal and choral, chamber music. (All photos below are by Tony Cenicola for The New York Times.)

NY Tmes best of 2012 1 Tony Cenicola

I myself haven’t heard all of them. But I have heard many of them –- recordings by pianist David Greilsammer, violinist Jennifer Koh, pianist Inon Barnatan, pianist Andras Schiff, the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and conductor Nicholas McGegan — and I heartily concur with the choices. I don’t think you can go wrong.

NY Tmes Best of 2012  2 Tony Cenicola

And if you want to sample some of the, you can always go to and see the website offers samplings from certain tracks. Plus, you can see the number of stars form buyers as well as comments or mini-reviews from others who bought the recordings and listened to it.

NY TImes Best of 2012 3 Tony Cenicola

Here is a link to round-up by the critics of The New York Times:

    Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 1,235 other followers

    Blog Stats

    • 2,182,798 hits
    July 2020
    M T W T F S S
%d bloggers like this: