Anat Cohen's Chicago Premiere

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Monday February 04, 2019

From The Chicago Tribune

Reviews: Lyric Opera’s searing ‘Elektra’; Anat Cohen’s Chicago premiere
By: Howard Reich

[…] ‘Triple Helix,’ which clarinet virtuoso Anat Cohen played Friday night in Orchestra Hall, carried no script and or extra-musical message. Yet the profundities of the piece, as well as its sensuous tonal palette, offered much to ponder.

Co-commissioned by Symphony Center with Carnegie Hall, ‘Triple Helix’ was penned by longtime Cohen collaborator Oded Lev-Ari, who conducted the Anat Cohen Tentet. Though the musical world knows Cohen as an elite jazz soloist, ‘Triple Helix’ stands as a bona fide clarinet concerto cast in classical structure and technique (if streaked with elements of jazz, blues, rock and whatnot). Its Chicago premiere ‘” and first performance after the Carnegie Hall unveiling last month ‘” pointed to a work of considerable expressive reach.

For starters, Lev-Ari gave Cohen a meticulously composed score predicated largely on classical phrasing and gesture. The wide-open melodic intervals, meticulous instrumental attacks and extensive pitch range brought forth sounds we are not accustomed to hearing from Cohen. With so much of the piece avoiding the swing undertow of Cohen’s jazz playing, she often sounded like a musician transformed.

More important, the concerto’s first movement illuminated the high craft of Lev-Ari’s writing, the classical formalities of its initial pages eventually giving way to a pulsing, jazz-tinged finale. It culminated with long-held clarinet notes soaring above a thickening ensemble accompaniment and peaked in a witty surprise ending.

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