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… The new CD by the duo :nota bene: is a challenge to the listener. This would not usually be seen as a selling-point, but it is in fact desirable for new music. Thus it is a legitimate description, when :nota bene: endeavours to provide new listening experiences.
The determining experience in this third volume is the contrast between the variety of pieces and composers on the one hand, and the concentrated brevity of the works on the other.
This selection compels the listener's concentrated attention if he is not to miss half the point.
György Kurtág, who long remained practically unknown, had a sophisticated collection of sounds at his disposal as early as 1979. In the "Tre pezzi", the Duo immediately achieves three quite distinct atmospheres. First the barren waste ("sad and desolate"), performed with magnificent toughness, but then allowing just a meagre trace of life ("vivo"), and to conclude, a sentimental strain ("very quiet, extremely slow"). Eva Steinschaden elicits impressive sighs and sobs from her instrument. Time stands still, giving the opportunity to let one's mind wander.
We are torn from our dreams by Lutos_awski's "Subito" (1992), which does full justice to its title. The dynamics are the important element here, since the work has little to offer in the way of counterpoint. The alternation of volume is executed here with great success.
This CD brings two contemporary works as a particular point of interest – each concerning a myth. Ludwig Nussbichler (b 1963) focused on the dream, a flourishing concept at the beginning of the 19th century. "Traumbildfragment III" is also reminiscent of early Schoenberg, of Skryabin and his floating melodies, of music from the time of Freud's interpretation of dreams. Violin melodies wander aimlessly through the echoes of the fragmentary piano figures, played by Alexander Vavtar with uncompromising use of pedal. Here is the opportunity for a highly sensuous experience.
Klemens Vereno (b 1957) has a completely different approach. "Five Haikus" draws inspiration from the myth of far-eastern spirituality. A haiku is a very short Japanese form of verse consisting of three lines with 5, 7 and 5 syllables. This structure cannot be distinguished, however, in Vereno's five movements, which last between 40 and 62 seconds. Perhaps the composer had something more general in mind; with such short pieces, the only thing is to pay attention to details. Unlike the blurred "dream pictures", here each note of Vereno's calm tone poems carries great weight and must be clearly perceived.
Altogether, an oppressive fullness in an interpretation which does not take the listener by the hand – and perhaps does not intend to. But anyone rising to the challenge certainly has an experience in store.
(klassik.com/Germany, July 2005)


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