Geoffrey Burleson / Matt Haimovitz

Odd Couple

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This album of works for cello and piano by Matt Haimovitz and Geoffrey Burleson is clever in every conceivable way. The title itself, Odd Couple, plays on the fact that the cello and piano are really a mismatched pair when you think about it, and fits perfectly Haimovitz's long-time mission to popularize classical music. The program itself borders on inspired, featuring all works by American composers. The earliest and likely most recognizable of these is the Barber sonata, a sonorous and Romantically leaning work. Elliott Carter's sonata of 1948 (a criminally neglected work in the cello-piano repertoire), frequently harkens back to the Baroque, but is also a major stepping stone for Carter's own compositions and his use of metric modulation. Skipping ahead almost a half-century are the equally significant and engaging 22 Part I by David Sanford and Cantos for Slava by Augusta Read Thomas, written in commemoration of Rostropovich. While these last two works mentioned definitely have a more "modern" aesthetic, they are also made completely accessible to novice listeners by the dynamic, energetic, and demonstrative playing of Haimovitz and Burleson. The works on the album cover an impressive array of emotions, styles, and techniques; all of these are handled with exemplary precision, fine-tuned balance, and a symbiotic connection between the two performers that will leave listeners thinking that this is not such an "Odd Couple" after all. Sticklers for absolute adherence to the score will notice that Haimovitz and Burleson sometimes play free-and-easy with printed rhythms, but the musical outcome far outweighs these occasional indiscretions.

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