Notes and Editorial Reviews
DUOS FOR VIOLIN AND CELLO
Rudens Turku (vn); Wen-Sinn Yang (vc)
AVIE 2124 (68:09)
op. 39: Prelude; Berceuse; Canzonetta; Scherzo.
Duetto No. 1.
Variations brillantes sur “God Save the King”
Rudens Turku and Wen-Sinn Yang, a duo well matched in tonal weight and timbre, establish in the impassioned rhetoric of the first movement of Kodály’s Duo a seamless partnership that convincingly negotiates the work’s rugged emotional, though instrumentally idiomatic, terrain through the searching Adagio, the brief third movement, and the mercurial finale. While the music demands and the duo offers a command of musical gesture, the impression its members create remains one of congenial cooperation rather than of dynamic contrast. Consider, for example, the dynamic contrast between Janos Starker and Josef Gingold in their overwhelming performance of the piece from 1973, rereleased on Delos 1015—and compare to it the greater—blander?—homogeneity of the Yuli and Eleanora Turovsky on Chandos 8427, which John D. Wiser recommended in 11:4: although he recognized their “reactive and penetrating playing,” he also found them “well matched”; it’s both a strength and a weakness in music like this.
Justus Johann Friedrich Dotzauer’s Duo, which follows immediately, provides a shift from drama to lyricism, with the violin setting out, in the introduction, in its upper registers over a cello accompaniment. Sets of variations follow (Peter Avis’s notes identify the themes as the Bridal Chorus and the Pas de trois in act III of Rossini’s
). Dotzauer may have been a cellist (and composer of a set of famous studies), but he assigns to the violin the lion’s share of virtuosic passages and singing melody (though they play much of that in electrifying parallel passages). Turku and Yang display a rich tonal beauty in this work that they must have felt necessary to stiffen somewhat to accommodate the urgent declamation of Kodály’s Duo. Turku and Yang also adapt themselves effectively to the selections from Reinhold Glière’s
, which return to a darker coloration, supported by subtle but more traditional harmonies, piquant rhythms (in the Scherzo), and sinuous, though not ethnically-hued, melodies. Paganini’s work suggests a grander purpose than mere entertainment. He assigned singing melodies to the cello, making it a full partner rather than a mere accompanist, and Yang is commanding in the role as alternate soloist (one instrument usually accompanies). Cellist Adrien François Servais and violinist Joseph Ghys collaborated on a set of variations on
God Save the King
, which Paganini himself had taken as the subject for one of his wizard’s fantasies. Confronting the performers with challenging problems in ensemble, this set almost equals Paganini’s, though its demands on the individual players, by no means modest, may not.
Throughout the recital, the duo displays admirable adaptability and collaborative unanimity—and the close and detailed recording shows it. Yet, the somewhat staid effect of the last two pieces might suggest a lack of impish playfulness (as in what seems the mock melodrama of the last variation of
God Save the King
.) Recommended, therefore, for the overall effect.
FANFARE: Robert Maxham
Works on This Recording
Be the first to review this title