The small-scale chamber works of the twentieth century's preeminent composers, often composed either from specific commissions or in response to a general lack of available large ensembles, frequently represent the most distilled, refined examples of each composer's voice. The four works heard on this DUX album are the crème-de-la-crème of this type of piece. The disc opens with truncated trio version of Stravinsky's Soldier's Tale, drawn from the original suite for septet, before moving on to the seldom-heard exploration of the clarinet's abilities in his Three Pieces for Clarinet Solo. Lutoslawski's Partita for Violin & Piano, commissioned by Pinchas Zukerman, is among Lutoslawski's most mature works and also one of his most accessible. The album culminates with what is likely the most often played composition of this genre, Bartók's Contrasts, commissioned by Benny Goodman. All of the works on this program share an extremely high degree of technical difficulty, the execution of which can mask the underlying musical intent of the composer if not performed well. The trio of Polish artists featured here toss off even the most demanding technical passages with extreme precision, finesse, and consummate attention to detail. Their obvious knowledge of the score allows them to focus their attention on guiding the listener through the complexities of the music and highlight the composer's musical message. Intonation is stunningly precise, as are articulation and dynamics. DUX's sound is pleasingly close and powerful, making listeners feel as if they are on-stage with the musicians.
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AllMusic Review by Mike D. Brownell
|L' histoire du soldat (The Soldier's Tale), suite transcribed for violin, clarinet & piano|
|Pieces (3) for solo clarinet|
|Partita, for violin & piano|
|Contrasts, pieces (3) for clarinet, violin & piano, Sz. 111, BB 116|