COMPOSERS: Bartok,Holliger,Killius,Martin∞,Maxwell Davies,Nied,Scelsi & Skalkottas
WORKS: Works by Bartók, Holliger, Killius, Maxwell Davies, Martin∞, Nied, Scelsi & Skalkottas
PERFORMER: Thomas Zehetmair (violin), Ruth Killius (viola)
CATALOGUE NO: ECM 476 3827
Thomas Zehetmair is the intellectual’s violinist, with a hair-trigger precision of sound and rhythm, and an eager interest in the allusive and tough-minded parts of contemporary music. His wife, the violist Ruth Killius, is clearly made of the same metal. On this CD they come together for a series of violin-viola duets, unearthing many pieces which will be new to most listeners
Not all of these are equally engaging.
Johannes Nied’s Zugabe shows that trying to make an interesting piece out of just two notes may be a challenge too far, and Giacinto Scelsi’s attempt to summon the oracular frenzy of Manto – female seer and daughter of Tiresias – falls flat for reasons which have nothing to do with Ruth Killius’s impassioned performance. But Holliger’s Three Sketches, the third of which calls on both players to sing, are intriguing; as are the tiny miniatures by Bartók and Maxwell Davies. For me, the most rewarding pieces are the ones that allow the players to show a more varied, human tone. The energetic rhythms of the Duo by the Greek pupil of Schoenberg Nikos Skalkottas come as a welcome surprise. Ivan Hewett