Virtuosic Duos

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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Sometimes, two players are all that’s needed for some extraordinary chamber music and this program from the Chamber Music Society sets out to prove that point.

Allessandro Rolla was a contemporary of Beethoven and a violinist and violist, and his duo for violin and viola in this program clearly demonstrates what must have been the composer’s extraordinary skill on these instruments.

Italian 20th century composer Lucian Berio composed his 34 duos for two violins in the late 1970s, and they are fascinating explorations of the possibilities that exist for two violins, a genre that finds its roots well back into the Baroque period.

The Frenchman Camille Saint-Saens is known mostly for his works for larger forces, such as his concertos and other orchestral works such as his much-beloved Carnival of the Animals. But this prodigiously gifted and prolific composer found the time and inspiration to fully explore the possibilities of chamber music, writing not only trios, quartets and quintets, but also numerous sonatas for solo instrument and piano. This sonata, his first for violin and piano, is rightly considered one of the staples of the violin literature.

Program details:

Rolla: Duetto Concertante in E-flat major for Violin and Viola, Op. 15, No. 1
— Bella Hristova, violin; Mark Holloway, viola.

Berio: Selected Duets for Two Violins - 1, 2, 6
— Shmuel Ashkenasi, violin; Arnold Steinhardt, violin.

Saint-Saëns: Sonata No. 1 in D minor for Violin and Piano, Op. 75
— Elmar Oliveira, violin; Juho Pohjonen, piano.

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