Patricia Kopatchinskaja & Sol Gabetta - Sol & Pat - Stereophile

Performance 4.5*
Sonics 4.5*

For fans of these two highly idiosyncratic artists, the only surprise this album may hold is the music. Others may reel as much at the spontaneous improvisatory nature of the playing as the wildness of the repertoire and the uniqueness of its sequencing.

If there's anything that Leclair's short Tambourin in C major and C.P.E. Bach's Presto, Helm 66 VI have in common with two movements from Jörg Widmann's 24 Duos for violin and cello, Francisco Coll's Rizoma, Marcin Markowicz's Interlude, Julien-François Zbinden's La fête au village, Xenakis's Dhipli Zyia, Ligeti's Hommage à Hilding Rosenberg, Ravel's Sonata in A minor for violin and cello, and Kodály's Duo for violin and cello in D minor, Op.7, it's how they push the envelope. It's a perfect repertoire for longtime friends who have no trouble digging in and letting loose in ways that might terrify more buttoned-down artists. Even the 80-minute program's final arrangement of J.S. Bach's short Prelude No.15 in G major, BWV 860 from The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, sounds thoroughly modern and adventurous in these women's hands.

The conversation between Sol and Pat that replaces traditional liner notes is almost as revelatory as the playing. They texted Coll several times to learn how the piece he composed for them should sound, and they acknowledge the few wrong notes in their first read-through. Markowicz's quirky Interlude, in turn, won their four-minute-max Composition Competition on Facebook. And they were attracted to the "intoxicated frenzy" of Tambourin.

Three thumbs up for this madcap, joy-filled adventure in which, in Sol's words, "New music stimulates one's curiosity, and older music closes the circle."

07 January 2022