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Manor House Music


Works for Violin and Viola
Louis SPOHR (1784-1859)
Duo in E minor for violin and viola Grand Op.13 (1808) [18:41]
Alessandro ROLLA (1757-1841)
Duo Concertant in C minor for violin and viola Op.4 No.2 (c.1807-13) [23:59]
Johann Wenzel KALLIWODA (1801-1866)
Duet in C major for violin and viola Op 208 No.1 [18:57]
Vaughan Jones (violin)
Reiad Chibah (viola)
rec. MBJ Studios, London, April 2008
Experience Classicsonline

This is an ambitious project for a new label – a disc of violin and viola duos.  Spohr is the master of the genre amongst this company and his Duo, long known as the Grand is possibly the best known as well. It was written when he was twenty-four and attests to his eloquence in matters of thematic distribution and, no less, sheer virtuosity. The Jones-Chibah team take a fine series of tempo decisions and blend their tones nicely. They bring a good sense of expressive control to the second movement as well and dispatch the Minuet finale with real fluency. Lautenbacher and Ulrich Koch once recorded this but a more recent version is by the formidable team of Tabea Zimmermann and Antje Weithaas on Capriccio 71 106. This is coupled with Mozart’s Duos K423 and 424.

Rolla’s Duo Concertant has also not escaped the recording studio. Jones and Chibah do well by the pensive introductory paragraphs before the vitality of the Allegro section breaks out of the blocks. Once again tonally congruent they make for a well matched pairing – clearly well rehearsed they sustain the breadth of the piece with imagination and intelligence. They increase dramatic tension appropriately and effectively with some quicksilver bowing that impresses - especially enjoyable was the rusticity of the finale where Chibah essays some throbbing viola accompaniment.

The final piece in the recital is rare. Kalliwoda was prolific so we shouldn’t be surprised that his Duet carries the Opus number 208.  Again this opens with a sliver of a slow introduction before the more energetic and thematically contrastive material erupts. Notable in this work is the use Kalliwoda makes of unison fanfare figures. The long reverberation in MBJ Studios allows these to taper off nicely – though there are moments when the recording does add a certain metallic quality to the string tones. The slow movement is elegant though rather evasive emotively – not at all deep. But the scherzo and the finale make up for this relative lack with some animated and engaging lines, strongly played by the duo.

There’s nothing gaunt or off-puttingly didactic about these duos or about the playing which is energetic and pliantly authoritative.

Jonathan Woolf




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