Duo Sessions: Julia Fischer and Daniel Müller-Schott

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COMPOSERS: Halvorsen,Kodaly,Ravel,Schulhoff
ALBUM TITLE: Duo Sessions
WORKS: Kodály: Duo for Violin and Cello, Op. 7; Schulhoff: Duo for Violin and Cello; Ravel: Sonata for Violin and Cello; Halvorsen: Passacaglia
PERFORMER: Julia Fischer (violin), Daniel Müller-Schott (cello)

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It’s easy to forget that Julia Fischer was originally a pianist, and she says playing the violin can feel ‘like the left hand is missing’. Enter long-term colleague cellist Daniel Müller-Schott and you have an Olympian team: two string players with a similarly sleek, high-calorific sound, intensity of purpose and technical command.

Fortunately, this programme of duos can withstand their high-voltage attack: they set Kodály’s big-boned Op. 7 ablaze, Müller-Schott lending searing eloquence, Fischer rhythmic punch and zinging clarity, but both breathing as one. Possibly, Schulhoff could do with a less earnest approach: the elusive opening Moderato misses a note of nonchalance, but their ‘Zingaresca’ is irresistibly, throatily earthy, and they evoke the spirit of Janácek in a finale of thrilling abandon.

If I missed a sense of fragility and playfulness in the Allegro of Ravel’s spangled masterpiece – too many hard down-beats – but a ferocious Trés vif  and a Lent  of glimmering ‘white’ stillness won me over. Their intuitive handling of the explosive Vif  finale unlocks the whimsical detail of its inner workings. Throughout, the precision of intonation and touch produces an impressive resonance and range of timbres brilliantly captured by the recording. Halvorsen’s outrageous Passacaglia makes for an exhilarating encore. For some, this might just knock the Capuçon brothers (Erato) off their current top spot.

Helen Wallace

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Listen to an excerpt from this recording here.