Bela Bartok: 44 Duos for Two Violins; Gyorgy Legeti: Ballad and Dance; Gyorgy Kurtag: Ligatura
Béla Bartók: 44 Duos for Two Violins; György Ligeti: Ballad and Dance; György Kurtág: Ligatura. András Keller, János Pilz, violins. (ECM New Series, 1729 CD 289 465 849 2)
Bartók wrote his Violin Duos to introduce young students to both contemporary and folk music, and indeed most of the pieces are based on folk tunes of many ethnic origins. For pedagogical purposes, he arranged the pieces in order of difficulty, but encouraged players to reorder them for performance. Pilz and Keller, the excellent violinists of the Keller String Quartet, have created a sequence that offers both continuity and contrast.
These Hungarian musicians, steeped in the idiomatic tradition of their country, bring out the ethnic element of the duets with a gypsy-like daring, playing with color and rhythmic incisiveness. They project the mood and character of each piece with all the means—instrumental and expressive—at their disposal. Ligeti's Ballad is slow, lyrical, and rather conventional, the Dance is wildly accentuated; Kurtág's Ligatura is static, mysterious, and quite dissonant.
This article, "Bela Bartok: 44 Duos for Two Violins; Gyorgy Legeti: Ballad and Dance; Gyorgy Kurtag: Ligatura," is part of the Strings Archive, which you can access with a paid site subscription.
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