Canadian Duos for Violin and Cello

JEAN COULTHARD (1908-2000): Duo Sonata, VIOLET ARCHER (1913-2000): 4 Duets, BARBARA MONK FELDMAN (b.1953): Pour un Nuage Violet, ALICE PING YEE HO (b.1960): Kagura Fantasy, JOCELYN MORLOCK (b.1969): Serpentine paths, REBEKAH CUMMINGS (1980-2019): Our Strength, Our Song.

Catalogue Number: 01V052

Label: Centrediscs

Reference: CMCCD 27719

Format: CD

Price: $16.98

Description: This album, by a duo of sisters, celebrates the contribution that women composers have made to Canadian music in the past 40 plus years, in diverse pieces that remain predominantly very tonal and accessible. Cummings' ancestry was Bulgarian, and her piece pays tribute to the tradition of two-part folksongs being passed down through the generations by the women of the family. A short folk-like theme is the subject of variations in different styles, with quasi-vocal bending of pitches and an earthy directness of approach. Archer studied with Hindemith and Bartók, with whom her music has something in common. The Duets were written for a precocious adolescent cellist and her father, and their four distinct moods - brooding, restless, strained, and enthusiastic - seem calculated to relate to their young dedicatee. Coulthard's Sonata is a toughly wrought, traditional three-movement specimen, with a sonata-form opening movement contrasting a leaping, muscular first theme with a robust but lyrical second subject, which are dramatically developed. A restrained and eloquent passacaglia follows, and an active, lively finale in contrasting sections, leading to a passionate climax and a quiet coda that brings the work full circle with a hushed gesture from the opening of the first movement. Morlock's piece wittily explores the idea of a close duo of separate personalities trying to co-operate on a journey, with moments of abrasiveness, humour, tenderness, and mutual support and determination. Barbara Monk's work paints long abstract lines of subtle colours, like the contours of a landscape seen from afar. Meditative and calm, it’s delicate, nuanced textures are more evocative of images and less concerned with sound as an end in itself than her late husband’s music. Ho's Kagura Fantasy evokes a ceremonial dance from Shinto ritual. Strongly and virtuosically rhythmic, the piece makes extensive use of techniques that suggest traditional Asian instruments - pizzicato, spiccato, col legno, but no avant-garde extended playing - while its modal melodies remain clear and uncomplicated, and the music is lively and attractive. Akemi Mercer-Niewoehner (violin), Rachel Mercer (cello).


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