The Strad Issue: January 2011
Description: A virtuoso exploration of music for violin and cello
Musicians: Eight Strings: Valeria Nasushkina (violin) Mikael Samsonov (cello)
Composer: Kodály, Cirri, Halvorsen, Glière

Kodály’s Duo shows his fertile absorption of folk music into an often gritty and dramatically compelling style, a combination of qualities that is perfectly encapsulated here. The playing from both members of Eight Strings is highly idiomatic, at one moment eloquently sensitive, at another frenzied and furious. In effect the players proffer a judicious blend of spontaneity and carefully organised drive, of passion and intensity yet also absolute precision in terms of ensemble and blending.  

A similarly neat style of execution characterises the world premiere recording of the Duo op.12 by the early Classical composer Giovanni Battista Cirri (1724–1808), and the addition of the players’ own specially composed cadenzas is imaginative in generating a bold range of timbres.

Much of the strength of Halvorsen’s flamboyant showpiece of a Passacaglia lies in the original theme penned by Handel. Here the virtuosity bubbles away in a natural and entertaining fashion. Again the players add spice to the proceedings by occasionally enhancing the timbral range with sul ponticello effects. Finally, Glière’s pleasant and well-crafted salon duos are lavished with expressive and carefully honed ensemble in this extremely attractive and clearly engineered release.

Joanne Talbot