Alexandre da Costa / Christian Frohn

Mozart: Duos for Violin & Viola

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With duos such as violinist Alexandre da Costa and violist Christian Frohn, it's a shame there's not a wider repertoire for violin and viola duo. The two perform together as if that's all they've done throughout their entire careers. All aspects of their performance are well-unified and homogenous -- intonation, tone colors, dynamics, phrasing, articulation -- all pleasingly on the same wavelength. The two duos of Mozart, K. 423 & 424, are remarkably evenly written for the two instruments, likely owing to Mozart's fondness for the viola in chamber music. Still, they're not the most invigorating or sublime works Mozart ever composed, and the two musicians aren't afforded every opportunity to truly show off their skills. The other Mozart work on the program is the Six Airs from the Magic Flute, originally arranged for two violins or two flutes. So essentially listeners are getting a transcription of a transcription, and while the arrangement is sufficient and the performance unassailable, it's just not the most brilliant way to hear Mozart. The final work on the program is the famous Handel/Halvorsen Passacaglia, truly a virtuoso work for this instrumentation that should give these two fine musicians a chance to really show what they're capable of. Unfortunately, it turns out to be a very safe and uneventful rendition. With so many musical gifts and so much potential within their grasp, this album sadly ends up being little more than well-played background music.

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