Duo Sessions: Kodaly, Schulhoff, Ravel, Halvorsen | Orfeo C902161A

Duo Sessions: Kodaly, Schulhoff, Ravel, Halvorsen

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Label: Orfeo

Cat No: C902161A

Format: CD

Number of Discs: 1

Genre: Instrumental

Release Date: 9th September 2016

Contents

About

The works heard in this programme – some of the most important works written for violin and cello – were written surprisingly late, some of them a decade or more after the dawn of the Modern era: Kodály 1914; Ravel 1922; Schulhoff 1925. Although these three works can scarcely be regarded as avant-garde for their time, at least where their tonality is concerned, a new spirit is in the air: a freely ranging search on all levels for new forms and means of expression, coupled with a love of experimentation with extremely sparse scoring. It is also noteworthy that all three works succeed in their own way in reflecting a national character in their musical idiom. Ravel offers typical trompe-l’oreille subtlety while retaining immaculately groomed French elegance; Kodály writes against a background of ethnological research in folk music; Schulhoff stands out for the way he experiments with complex combinations of rhythms.

However, the pioneering work in a distinctive violin-cello repertoire was surely written a generation earlier: Brahms’s concerto for this ‘eight-stringed giant’ of 1887. It was a performance of his work that brought Julia Fischer and Daniel Müller-Schott together on the concert platform for the first time. In fact, both artists wish this CD release to represent a record of their work together as a duo over the past ten years and more, as the pair explain in an extended conversation with Meret Forster printed in the accompanying booklet. It is already the case that performances of the Brahms Double Concerto by Fischer and Müller-Schott now almost inevitably lead the audience to expect the immortal Handel-Halvorsen Passacaglia of 1894 – a demand that is gladly met. This congenial enlargement by the Norwegian violinist and composer Johan Halvorsen (1864-1935) of a Passacaglia from a Handel suite for harpsichord exists in various pairings of violin, viola and cello. It accentuates the infectious vigour of the original in a remarkably clever manner by its highly challenging but idiomatic transposition to two quite differently characterized and mutually supportive instruments.

Reviews

Throughout, the precision of intonation and touch produces an impressive resonance and range of timbres brilliantly captured by the recording. Halvorsen’s ourageous Passacaglia makes for an exhilarating encore. For some, this might just knock the Capuçon brothers (Erato) off their current top spot.  Helen Wallace (Chamber Choice)
BBC Music Magazine November 2016
That pair of works [Kodály’s Duo and Ravel’s Sonata] are the mainstay of Julia Fischer and Daniel Müller-Schott’s disc together, too. But they play them with such energy, engagement and virtuoso precision that there’s never any hint of overfamiliarity; in both works, every detail of the extremely demanding string writing is carefully etched, and captured with tingling immediacy in the recording, whether it’s the rhapsodic lines of the Kodály, or the acerbic bitonal clashes of the Ravel. And between the two, they include another substantial piece, composed just after Ravel’s Sonata. The Duo for Violin and Cello, by Erwin Schulhoff, shows all the standard tendencies of 1920s Neue Sachlichkeit ... but Fischer and Müller-Schott take such care over the music and invest it with such purpose, that it can more than hold its own between the Kodály and the Ravel.  Andrew Clements
The Guardian 29 July 2016

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