Judith Busbridge / Maya Magub

The Duos for Violin & Viola by Mozart and Michael Haydn

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The Six Duos for Violin and Viola by Michael Haydn and Mozart brought about a rare but touching story of one composer helping out another. Michael Haydn, younger brother of Joseph, was commissioned to write the six duos on his own, but fell ill. His good friend Mozart swooped in to complete the final two duos. Mozart's attempts to make his own contributions sound like Haydn are obvious, yet the refined hand of the master is unmistakable. Mozart's two duos are much more sophisticated both in tonality and in the more equal treatment of the two instruments. Still, together they form a pleasing set that is perhaps too often overlooked. Performing the complete set on this two-disc CRD set are violinist Maya Magub and violist Judith Busbridge, two seasoned artists who began their performing relationship as members of the London Mozart Players. Both Magub and Busbridge perform with appropriate levels of gusto and enthusiasm, leading to a light-hearted and energetic performance throughout. Intonation, articulation, and phrasing are all spot-on; tempos are pleasingly brisk in the outer movements and enjoyably restrained in the inner movements. Where the recording falls slightly short is the blended sound of the two instruments. The viola sounds quite distant and nasal compared to the more prominently featured violin, even in sections where the viola carries the melody. A more evenly applied balance would have been preferred, but this set is still a reasonable choice.

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