Husband and wife team violinist Thomas Zehetmair and violist Ruth Killius have divided their performing and recording careers between standard and contemporary repertoire. On this CD they tackle a diverse selection of 20th and 21st century repertoire for their instruments. Giacinto Scelsi's 1957 Manto for viola and female voice is in the three movements. The first two, for viola alone, betray little direction or focus and are relentlessly, gratingly dissonant. The third movement with voice is intriguing in its interweaving of the contrasting timbres and is altogether engaging. Heinz Holliger's Drei Skizzen for both instruments uses a high level of dissonance, but it is altogether more shapely, purposeful, and even witty. In its third movement, Song for Six Voices, each performer plays two lines and sings one, creating an intriguing and mysterious texture. Bartók's ingenious, very brief Duo, from 1905 has a Mozartian economy and elegance. It is notated as a single line; one performer plays it as written and the other plays the same line, but from a score that has been turned upside down. Peter Maxwell Davies sets a very different tone with his Midhouse Air, which moves quickly from a gently folksy quality to a boisterous barn dance. Martinu's Three Madrigals are the only pieces on the CD from what could be called the standard repertoire for this somewhat unusual instrumental combination. It's a completely satisfying piece and Zehetmair and Killius play it with polish and great verve. Throughout, they play with exceptionally rich and lively tone, and are wholehearted commited to each work. ECM's sound is vibrant and sparklingly clear.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Stephen Eddins