Patricia Kopatchinskaja & Sol Gabetta - Sol & Pat - BBC Music Magazine

On paper this may look like an unlikely musical partnership – cellist Sol Gabetta leans more towards the interpretative centre ground, Patricia Kopatchinskaja towards left-field – yet put them together and the result is musical dynamite. Immediately, one is hurtled into the fray by a whirlwind extemporisation on Leclair’s C major Tambourin, followed by Widmann’s Toccatina all ’inglese, with its hysterical James Bond Theme cross-references. Then all is calm for a pizzicato transcription of a CPE Bach Presto, eloquently shaped with a seductive malleability.

Yet this captivating recital really goes into overdrive with Ravel’s Sonata, an elusive masterwork whose relative coolness of expression is here embraced with an alluring suppleness and tonal sophistication that ravishes the senses. Similarly Kodály’s Duo, another tough interpretative nut to crack, which emerges as a bracingly inventive soundscape, whose folksong preoccupations are handled with improvisatory flair and freedom, bringing the music pulsatingly to life.

Another highlight is La fête au village, a 1947 set of six ‘sketches’ by Swiss composer Julien-François Zbinden, who died earlier this year aged a remarkable 103. In the second movement ‘Fanfare’, Kopatchinskaja creates an unnervingly convincing impression of someone drunk in charge of a violin, and both artists have a ball with the intonationally suspect ‘Pont de danse’. Rarely has music with a more modernist vibe – Ligeti’s Hommage à Hilding Rosenberg, for example, or Marcowicz’s Interlude – sounded so seductive, nor so revelatory in the context of the music with which it is surrounded. More please!

BBC Music Magazine
01 December 2021