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Fabulous interplay between two top performers

Opus Klassiek, Gerard Scheltens

What interests us is the artistic result of this beautiful connection between violin and cello. A CD program like this with a few different composers can result in a number of musical delicacies without coherence. To get from the pizzicati (‘Water Droplets’) of ten-year-old Jean Sibelius via Penderecki’s serene and elaborate ‘Ciaconna for Pope John Paul II’ to the tango sounds of Astor Piazzolla requires some agility, even at this high level of interpretation.

And how should the record collector classify such a CD in order to find it in their record cabinet? Such minor problems disappear when this fabulous interplay between two top performers automatically makes meaningful connections from one composition to the next. Then the Sibelius–Piazzolla route is not illogical at all, but becomes an adventurous ‘Pas de Deux’ full of discoveries.

The special timbre of the rare violin–cello combination helps to lead us through, as well as sometimes unexpectedly-equal roles of the high and low instruments. One might think: the violin has the melody and leads, while the cello accompanies. In Ravel’s brilliant sonata, which Rowland and Bogdanovic choose as their focal point, the roles are often reversed, insofar as the melody lines do not move contrapuntally and diatonically side by side.

Before this comes Debussy, with an adaptation of his Prélude (book I, no. 9) written for this disc by Craig White, a well-chosen ‘Iberian’ piece that fits perfectly into the atmosphere.

There are more premiere recordings on the CD, such as the serious, unmistakably-Baltic ‘Castillo Interior’ by the Latvian Pēteris Vasks, the passionately-propulsive ‘Heimat Terra’ by the Sicilian Giovanni Sollima, and the ominous, at times dizzying, ‘Die Albträume des Todes’ by Marcelo Nimisman, who like his teacher Astor Piazzolla lets the tango rise far beyond its traditional dance form. Finally, from Piazzolla himself, come three early tangos which bear all the promises the great Argentinian would later fulfil.

Since his departure from the Brodsky Quartet, Daniel Rowland has been busy with both solo work and chamber music in all kinds of settings. Maja Bogdanovic, from Belgrade, is well on the way to securing her place amongst the cello elite. Together, with this sophisticated programme of largely unknown but exciting music, they present a wonderful business card as a duo. More! More!

(Loosely translated)

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20/10/2020