BBC Music Magazine
By Anthony Burton
Anthony Burton enjoys Jennifer Koh's superb recital
Jennifer Higdon's String Poetic of 2006 is a substantial and effective five-movement suite, which prompts unusual awarenes of the strings not only of the violin, coaxed into busy movement or singing melody, but also of the piano, intermittently stopped or plucked. Harrison's Grand Duo of 1988 is another big five-movement suite, mixing slow movements of disarming simplicity with quick movements of flat-out energy. These two works are placed in the context of an American tradition embracing also the vernacular references of John Adams's 1995 Road Movies and the intense expressionism of Carl Ruggles's 1918 Mood.
The young violinist Jennifer Koh, for whom the Higdon was written, plays with rock-solid technique and acute sensitivity; she's well matched by Reiko Uchida, who deserves a special word of praise for her adroit manipulation of the 'octave bar' which was invented by Harrison to produce clusters at high speed. Needless to say, the recording is unobtrusively excellent throughout.