AN EXPLORATION OF VIOLIN AND CELLO DUO REPERTOIRE

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2008

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Abstract

Duos for violin and cello are unique because composers are challenged to create with two stringed instruments the sonorities, textures and harmonies that traditionally are supplied by a quartet of instruments or combinations of instruments with piano. Inevitably, the demands for variety and intensity from each instrumentalist are heightened.

Perhaps this is why violin-cello duo repertoire is rarely performed, and recordings are either scarce or non-existent, a challenge in this modem era when the learning of works is often enhanced by listening to edited performances.

In my dissertation recitals, I wanted to explore as many different eras and compositional styles as possible. In the first recital, I presented the classical Duet in D Major for Violin and Cello, which is attributed to Joseph Haydn (1732-1809); Sonate pour Violon et Violoncelle by the impressionist, Maurice Ravel (1875-1937); and two 20th-Century duets: Duets for Violin and Cello, Op. 39 by Reinhold Gliere (1875-1956), whose writing here is tonally traditional and light in character, and Dialogi alia Notturno, an atonal work written in 1989 by Norbert Kuznik (1946-2006) for flute and cello.

For the second recital, I compiled a collection of compositions from 20th Century composers that yielded an ethnic array: Jean Sibelius's (1865-1957) Canon, Rebecca Clarke's (1886-1979) Two Pieces for Violin and Cello, Arthur Honneger's (1899-1955) Sonatine pour violon et violoncelle, Bohuslav Martinu's (1890-1959) Duo No. 1 inC major, Hector Villa-Lobos's (1887-1959) Deux Choros.

For the third recital, I presented what might be considered the crown jewel of all duo repertoire, the Double Concerto in A Minor, Op. 102, by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897). I chose to contrast it with the classical Duo for Violin and Cello in G major, written by the violoncellist Giambattista Cirri (1724-1808), and Duos on Folk Themes by the Polish composer Grazyna Bacewicz (1909-1969), which I selected and transcribed from her duos for two violins.

The recitals took place in Gildenhom Recital Hall on March 27th 2007, December 1st 2007, and Apri111th 2008. The violinist was Swiatoslaw Kuznik.

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