The intimacy of the Strathmore Mansion’s music room and the no-nonsense intensity of Jennifer Koh’s musicmaking proved to be a potent combination for her appearance there Wednesday. The violinist, a Tchaikovsky Competition winner 17 years ago, has put together three programs she calls “Bach and Beyond” that explore the influences of Bach’s six sonatas and partitas for solo violin on the contemporary violin repertoire. This was the first of those programs, and she will return with the second in February. Plan ahead: If the second is as well-played and structured as this one was, you ought to go.
Unaccompanied pieces by Ysaye, Kaija Saariaho, Elliott Carter and Esa-Pekka Salonen were bookended by Bach’s Partitas No. 3 and 2, and while the most obvious influences became harder to recognize as Koh wended her way through the program, Bach’s exploitation of the violin’s harmonic possibilities and the logic of his musical structures were common threads.