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Takemitsu, Hindemith, Janecek, Silvestrov / Duo Gazzana


Release Date: 11/01/2011 
Label:  Ecm   Catalog #: 001616902  
Composer:  Paul HindemithLeos JanácekValentin SilvestrovToru Takemitsu
Performer:  Natascia GazzanaRaffaella Gazzana
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Duo Gazzana
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



FIVE PIECES Duo Gazzana ECM 476 4428 (47:15)


TAKEMITSU Distance de fée. HINDEMITH Violin Sonata in E. JANÁ?EK Violin Sonata. SILVESTROV 5 Pieces


Natascia (violin) and Raffaella (piano) Gazzana are sisters; like many sibling teams—the Menuhins and the Read more Labèques come to mind—they have developed a total artistic unity in everything they play. That judgment is inferred from these performances of four works composed over a 90-year span (1914–2004). Curiously, it would be stretching a point only slightly to suggest that one might, in a blind test, reverse the chronological sequence.


Toru Takemitsu’s 1950 work—he was 20—reeks of Debussy and, as Paul Griffiths suggests in his fanciful program notes, contains echoes of Messiaen. The Gazzanas play it cleanly and clearly—although the violin is a bit strident—avoiding any murk or mist that might drown the little piece in its references.


The duo’s performance of Hindemith’s 1935 Sonata is marvelous. The gentle, serious lyricism of the opening Ruhig bewegt (calmly flowing) is deeply felt, as is the slow introduction to the finale. The piano takes the lead in the bubbling Sehr lebhaft (very lively), which feels just right.


After all the emotion poured into Hindemith, the Gazzanas’ Janá?ek Sonata (1914–21) is not quite right, in places too direct and square, elsewhere too aggressive. There needs to be a hesitancy, a gloss of uncertainty, in the performance. Perhaps the piano is too modern, too perfectly in tune; this sonata could use at least a hint of a turn-of-the-20th-century instrument—the flavor that Radoslav Kvapil brings to all his performances of Czech music, no matter what piano he is playing.


Valentin Silvestrov’s Five Pieces (2004) carry no national or chronological baggage that need be weighed. They are simple, lovely, and clear, yet of infinite subtlety—music that cannot be analyzed. The Gazzana sisters honor them with a natural, light dignity. I have no score, but there seems to be nothing stronger than mf in the entire five movements, and that only briefly, which suits the Gazzanas well.


A too-close-up recording does Natascia Gazzana’s violin no favors; her hard, dry tone at f and above would be cushioned by a little distance. The piano sounds fine throughout. ECM New Series supplies reviewers with preview CDs and label copy rather than the finished product; the disc calls this recital Five Pieces , but copy for the booklet’s front page lacks a title, listing only the composers and “Duo Gazzana.” In addition, notes and disc disagree on its identifying number; the headnote uses only the part they have in common. This release is a mixed bag, well worth hearing for the Hindemith and the unusual Silvestrov piece.


FANFARE: James H. North
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Works on This Recording

1.
Sonata for Violin and Piano in C major by Paul Hindemith
Performer:  Natascia Gazzana (Violin), Raffaella Gazzana (Piano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Duo Gazzana
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1939 
2.
Sonata for Violin and Piano by Leos Janácek
Performer:  Natascia Gazzana (Violin), Raffaella Gazzana (Piano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Duo Gazzana
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1914-1921; Brno, Czech Republic 
3.
Pieces (5) for Violin and Piano by Valentin Silvestrov
Performer:  Natascia Gazzana (Violin), Raffaella Gazzana (Piano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Duo Gazzana
Period: 21st Century 
Written: 2004 
4.
Distance de fée by Toru Takemitsu
Performer:  Natascia Gazzana (Violin), Raffaella Gazzana (Piano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Duo Gazzana
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1951; Japan 

Sound Samples

Distance de fée
Sonata in E for violin and piano (1935): I. Ruhig bewegt
Sonata in E for violin and piano (1935): II. Langsam - Sehr lebhaft
Sonata for Violin and Piano: I. Con moto
Sonata for Violin and Piano: II. Ballada (Con moto)
Sonata for Violin and Piano: III. Allegretto
Sonata for Violin and Piano: IV. Adagio
Five Pieces for violin and piano (2004): I. Elegia (Andante Larghetto)
Five Pieces for violin and piano (2004): II. Serenata (Moderato)
Five Pieces for violin and piano (2004): III. Intermezzo (Moderato)
Five Pieces for violin and piano (2004): IV. Barcarole (Andantino)
Five Pieces for violin and piano (2004): V. Nocturne (Larghetto)

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