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Chin: Violin Concerto, Rocaná / Nagano, Hagner, Montreal SO

Album Summary

>Chin, Unsuk : Rocaná "Room of Light"
>Chin, Unsuk : Concerto for Violin
Performer Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

The New York Times raved about Chin's Violin Concerto: "...the piece is a knockout. It begins with a gnarly, clattering, explosion; call it the Little Bang. Then comes a pattern of background harmonies, always simmering, eerily quiet and pervasive. But throughout the work, jolts of energy keep happening: leaping lines, ominous 12-tonish themes that pierce the tranquil background buzz, outbursts of wailing brasses and metallic strings that come at you like a musical flamethrower. The piece might be described as a response to Ives's 'Unanswered Question.'"

"Unsuk Chin's Violin Concerto begins like a musical centrifuge. The violin slowly starts churning with large intervallic leaps from a common tone until it spins wildly into a frenzy. The opening also references tuning the instrument, and what might be considered a second theme returns to that aspect in the first movement and elsewhere. Indeed, soon the piece is on a journey of sonic and motivic dialogue between the violin and orchestra, including a prominent percussion section, in toto comprising one of the more intriguing and compelling works for violin in the past decade. The University of Louisville agrees, bestowing its lucrative Grawemeyer Award on the Korean composer in 2004 for the work.

This is the premiere recording with the same performer in Viviane Hagner, and conductor in Kent Nagano, as performed it at the premiere in Berlin in 2001 and they clearly have a feel for it. This is most clearly seen in the pacing of Nagano, who patiently lets the piece develop, and in Hagner's ability to toss off some difficult playing without it seeming so. The Montreal Symphony plays on the edge of its collective seat here, with a remarkable mix of precision and warmth.

The Violin Concerto alone would establish Chin as a major voice in composition today, but she has many other scores to her credit. One of the latest is Rocaná, co-commissioned by the Montreal Symphony and several other world institutions (including the Seoul PO). While it bursts with complex writing, it is less innovative than her Violin Concerto - more along the postmodern avoidance of theme and obvious structure in the favour of sonic outbursts from various sections of the orchestra and uncoordinated layering. The sound generated by the orchestra is again brilliant under Nagano, even if the score's random-sounding surfaces didn't catch my ear on repeated listenings" - Gramophone Awards, 2010 / Contemporary nominee



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Works Details

>Chin, Unsuk : Rocaná "Room of Light"
  • Performer: Viviane Hagner (Violin)
  • Conductor: Kent Nagano
  • Ensemble: Montreal Symphony Orchestra
  • Notes: Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, Place des Arts, Montréal (03/03/2008-03/04/2008)
  • Running Time: 21 min. 3 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2008

>Chin, Unsuk : Concerto for Violin
  • Performer: Viviane Hagner (Violin)
  • Conductor: Kent Nagano
  • Ensemble: Montreal Symphony Orchestra
  • Notes: Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, Place des Arts, Montréal (01/15/2008-01/16/2008)
  • Running Time: 27 min. 2 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2001