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Monday, November 21, 2011

Duo Gazzana, "Five Pieces" by Silvestrov plus Music by Takemitsu, Hindemith, and Janacek

The Italian sisters Natascia (violin) and Raffaella (piano) Gazzana turn in a rather stunning debut on Five Pieces (ECM New Series B0014656-02). They tackle Takemitsu's "Distance de fee", Hindemith's 1935 "Sonata in E", Janacek's "Sonata", and Valentin Silvestrov's "Five Pieces" (2004).

Takemitsu's work was written when he was under a marked Messiaen influence but it has a strongly poetic quality that Duo Gazzana brings out nicely. The Hindemith has the harmonic movement, sometimes quiet grandeur and motor drive typical of the composer at his best. The Janacek is a work of some passion, rolling dramatics and east-meets-modern sensibility. The duo does not overemphasize the dramatic-romantic element and instead gives a well-balanced reading. Silvestrov's "Five Pieces" compares favorably with the rest of the program, in turns tender, gently propulsive, and largo-istically expressive.

The combination of Manfred Eichner's full-depth production and the sensitive, lyrically ravishing phrasings of Duo Gazzana make for a rather heady, subtly absorbing program. These are some wonderful works and they get an especially moving performance at the hands of the sister duo.

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