Bachtrack review: Bach, Mendelssohn, Jennifer Koh, and Vijay Iyer in a wintry Sun Valley

Review of Sun Valley Music Festival’s matinee Winter Season performance on Saturday, February 26, 2022

By Kurt Gottschalk


The pièce de résistance was Mendelssohn’s magnificent String Octet in E flat major, Op.20. The players sat in pairs, the violas opposite each other, situated in a circle on the circular stage in the center of the room, the stage, and beams above, now lit in a warm orange and yellow. It felt like the joy the rest of the program had promised – indeed that Koh herself had hinted at. Written when the composer was the ripe age of 16, the Octet is resplendent and ebullient and the ensemble played it with eight cylinders firing. The ninth member of the group, the Meyer sound system, gave them a balance and clarity. It was an inspired program closer, reinforcing the heavy lines and flights of fancy that passed by without pause earlier in the program and the feeling that we were more together than alone.

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