Violinist and new music advocate Jennifer Koh will make her subscription series debut with the New York Philharmonic in January performing Chain 2: Dialogue for Violin and Orchestra by Polish conductor Witold Lutoslawski. She will perform the piece at three concerts: Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, January 25 at 8:00 p.m.; and Saturday, January 26 at 8:00 p.m. The concerts will be held in Avery Fisher Hall and will be conducted by the orchestra's former music director, Lorin Maazel. The concerts open with Tchaikovsky's Romeo & Juliet, Overture-Fantasy and conclude with Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5.
Ms. Koh's three New York Philharmonic performances of Chain 2 are part of a worldwide commemoration of the centennial of Lutoslawski's birth. She will also perform the work with the Philharmonia Orchestra in London with conductor Esa Pekka-Salonen on March 21, 2013. Earlier this season Ms. Koh, who is an Oberlin Conservatory alumnus, performed the work with the Oberlin Orchestra in Cleveland.
"I find late compositions by composers fascinating because there's the idea of memory," says Ms. Koh. "Lutoslawski suffered a great deal in his lifetime and it's interesting because he moved away in his middle period from this idea of folk songs and this idea of Bartok, which at the time was kind of imposed on composers of his generation. What's interesting with Chain 2 is that you see him returning to that voicing, but on his own terms."
Although she will perform the piece repeatedly this season, each performance will be unique due to the composer's directive to play the piece "Ad Libitum." In Chain 2, while the music is fully notated, the conductor does not keep time, but cues the entrances for the different players, who then proceed at their own pace outside of any metrical divisions. This allows the violin soloist to perform freely, as if in a cadenza, without needing to be precisely synchronized with the orchestra.