Next Concert:

London (UK), Jerwood Hall Thu 29.02.2024


Sol & Pat ★★★★★

“Sol & Pat” are cellist Sol Gabetta and violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja. It’s a brilliant pairing, as they are the young(ish) female superstars of their respective instruments, and already have a reputation for performances of blazing individuality. Argentinian-born Gabetta is the more commanding of the two. I’ve heard her play the Dvorak concerto with an immense tone that easily dominated the orchestra behind her. Moldovan-born Kopatchinskaja, who once earned her living playing folk-fiddle on the streets of Vienna, is more elfin and wayward, given to slipping in a passage of Balkan-flavoured improvisation where you least expect it.

One hopes the combination will be like apples and cheese, i.e. even more flavoursome in combination than when sampled separately. It’s a hope slyly encouraged by the CD cover. Gabetta’s look is smiling but determined, while Kaputchinskaja looks heavenward in a way some might find charmingly kooky. But they’re both in sober black to show this is a serious enterprise, and in fact the meeting of musical minds seems total, with a wonderful combination of discipline and freedom.

Even so, an 80-minute CD combining Baroque and contemporary music with two 20th-century classics at its core might seem a tough proposition. The cello-and-violin duo is an austere medium lacking the mellifluous fullness of a full string quartet – which is exactly why Ravel chose to write a sonata for the combination. It forced him to go back to music’s essentials in melodic line and counterpoint, after years of revelling in the diaphanously rich sonorities of the orchestra. There’s nothing austere in this performance, which is expressively rich but also full of varied colours. In fact, the variety of tone and colour across the disc is its most surprising and enjoyable aspect, from the glistening, almost electronic sounds of Marcin Markowicz’s Interlude to the stamping folksiness of Dhipli Zyia by Greek composer Iannis Xenakis.

The performances of the Baroque pieces charm in a different way, as they bring a new colour to a familiar idiom. The Tambourine by Jean-Marie Leclair has a startling Balkan wildness, and the closing G major Prelude by Bach is as light as thistledown. At the opposite pole is the massive grandeur of the Duo by Hungarian composer Zoltán Kodály, which this recording confirms is easily the masterpiece of the medium. Altogether this new CD is a delight, and suggests that “Sol & Pat” is destined to become one of classical music’s most sellable brands.

Sol & Pat is released by Alpha

-, 01.10.2021