Pogossian Presents His Next Phase of Bach


Earlier this year, violinist Movses Pogossian released a magisterial reading of Johann Sebastian Bach’s complete solo sonatas and partitas for solo violin. On Tuesday night, he will usher in the next phase of his Bach project and the public is invited to listen.

At UCLA’s Schoenberg Hall on Nov. 21 at 8 p.m., Pogossian will perform a program of contemporary music that will be featured on his next CD from New Focus Recordings, “Inspired by Bach.”

Among works by Kaija Saariaho and György Kurtág, the latter one of the most highly esteemed composers living today and one who has collaborated closely with Pogossian, will also be world premieres by composers Gabriela Lena Frank and Andrew McIntosh.

Frank, who has had several works of hers performed and premiered by Pogossian’s Dilijan Chamber Series, will be represented by her “Suite Mestiza” for solo violin while McIntosh will have his “Sheer” for solo violin and eight tuned wine glasses.

“I love the sound of those glasses,” he said. “Their sound is very delicate and that was important because I didn’t want to overwhelm the violin. They form a kind of halo around it. Or they’re also a kind of shadow.”

The Nevada native and now Pasadena resident is a CalArts alum who draws on diverse influences from within and beyond Western classical music, including folk and classical idioms from Iran and India. He is also a violinist himself, though he is quick to note that his aural imagination as a composer is not tethered to his instrument.

“Sheer” had been commissioned from him by Pogossian specifically for this recital and subsequent recording. But their association goes further back.

“I first met him in 2007 at a class he gave at CalArts when I was a student there,” he recalled. “His playing and approach to music were simply incredible. We exchanged information and kept in touch since.”

When describing the qualities of Pogossian’s playing that he held in highest regard, he referred to his “purity of sound.”

“There’s an honesty to it that shines through. But it’s also very passionate and emotional.”

Movses Pogossian’s “Inspired by Bach” recital will take place Tuesday, Nov. 21 at Schoenberg Hall, 445 Charles E. Young Dr. East, Los Angeles at UCLA at 8 p.m. Admission is free to the public. For more information, please visit https://schoolofmusic.ucla.edu/14-movses-pogossian-inspired-by-bach