Superb readings of music by Schumann, Grieg and Kõrvits by the Gazzana Duo

The independent record label ECM – Edition of Contemporary Music – was founded by producer Manfred Eicher in 1969, and to date has issued more than 1700 albums of artists as diversified as jazz stars Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea, and Pat Metheny, and contemporary and traditional classical music creators Arvo Pärt, Giya Kancheli, the Hilliard Ensemble, Gidon Kremer, the Danish String Quartet, and András Schiff, all ECM release characterize by a perfectly engineered sound and insightful accompanying notes.

In a recording just released today, November 18, 2022, plainly titled Duo Gazzana (ECM 2706) the music of the contemporary Estonian composer Tõnu Kõrvits, is juxtaposed to late opuses by Robert Schumann, and Edvard Grieg, imaginatively played by sisters Natascia Gazzana, violin and Raffaella Gazzana, piano. The recording was made in November 2021 and produced by ECM founder Manfred Eicher.

Two category-defying compositions by Tõnu Kõrvits are featured in the recording; the Stalker Suite is a four-part work that honors the classic Russian film by Andrei Tarkovsky – itself a genre-defying work – bearing music as cryptic and sparse as the cinematic masterpiece it honors. By contrast, the Four Notturni, totally different from the Stalker Suite, investigate through a mix of lyrical assonance and bitter-sweet dissonance new technical possibilities for the violin and piano combination.

Robert Schumann’s Violin Sonata No.1 in A minor, dating from 1851 is one of the German composer’s later works, written as his mental health rapidly declined, although while his creative powers were at their peak. An intensely impassioned, often somber composition, it is given a superb reading by the Gazzana sisters, as is Edvard Grieg’s lively, folk-inspired, joyfully melodic Sonata No. 3 in C minor, the composer’s last.

A salute to EMC Recordings for its continued forays outside the tried and true in music.

Rafael de Acha © 2022

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