One of the duets is, of course, for violin and viola: Halvorsen's arrangement of Handel is a classic which has already several times been illuminated for the gramophone by stellar performances. So it is again; Perlman and Zukerman play it marvellously, and the extra depth and warmth of the larger instrument (though not, on this occasion, seemingly quite so large as Tertis's) runs only the risk of perhaps stressing the special, bassless quality of the violin duets proper.
Not that it follows at all from the fact of their being bassless that they are therefore unlistenable; indeed very far from it. In Leclair's three modest movements and in Wieniawslci's exacting (for at least one protagonist at a time) studies the quality ofRead more the playing—warm and true beyond what once would have been regarded as reasonable expectation—may be enjoyed fully. Only perhaps in Spohr is it of somewhat smaller effect: in consciously 'concertante' mind Spohr does keep his players rather relentlessly busy, and he does so at considerable length. But whether this will discourage a listener or not it certainly did not discourage the players, who could reasonably be said to give the piece the opportunity of its lifetime.
As of course they also do the rest of the music. The recording is as warm and true as the playing, helping the ensemble effect of the duo by resisting what must have been the temptation to exaggerate a stereo effect. I do not suppose there are all that many records of violin duets in the catalogue; I should be surprised indeed to find any at all which were demonstrably superior to this one.
-- M.M., Gramophone [2/1978]
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