Levon Ambartsumian / Shakhida Azimkhodjaeva

Violin Duos: Ysaye, Rozsa, Bronner, Podgaits

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While never the most popular genre at any given time, violin duos have occasionally sparked the creativity of some notable composers and yielded interesting, satisfying results. This is especially true of violinist performers/composers such as the Belgian master Eugene Ysaÿe, whose intricate, sophisticated, and fiercely challenging Sonata for two violins opens the program on this Phoenix album. Regrettably for listeners, the high technical demands that Ysaÿe puts on his performers are simply too great for violinists Levon Ambartsumian and Shakhida Azimkhodjaeva. Despite their notable pedigrees, they give a performance that is woefully out of tune, technically sloppy, and musically un-nuanced and uninteresting. Little improvement can be found in Miklós Rózsa's sonata, who is a composer often remembered for his successful film scores. What's most surprising is that even the two final works on the program by Mikhail Bronner and Efrem Podgaits -- works that were written specifically for Ambartsumian and Azimkhodjaeva -- are just as rough and unappealing. While the pieces on this program are indeed of great interest and value, the performances heard here are definitely not and listeners are encouraged to look elsewhere.

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