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Duo Gelland

Hagstedt Sinfonia & Depurazione

nosag CD 192 [73 mins]

A late December arrival, easy to enjoy, hard to describe.

Fredrik Hagstedt [centre] provides as notes a poetic autobiographical narrative, which describes his preoccupations and compulsion to compose since a childhood hearing of Beethoven's 5th.

The idiom is euphonious but never simplistic or 'minimalist' and shows great insight into the medium which the Gellands have made their own.

A treasurable disc which I recommend with the utmost warmth; ideal for Christmas and I shall listen to it often on my iPod (copying newly legal in UK !).

Peter Grahame Woolf

Violin Duos Vol. 3 & 6

Birgitte Alsted: Zweigeigen
Rolf Martinsson: Symbiosis
Bernd Franke: “In between (IV) for two violins”
Max Käck: Aonia terra
Ingvar Karkoff: Gelland Suite
Olov Franzén: Autumn Duo

Martin and Cecilia Gelland

Nosag CD 152

I was first introduced to this fantastic ensemble “audio-visually” when I watched their DVD of James Dillon’s Traumwerk.

I was immediately fascinated by their playing, their commitment to this music, the high level of musicianship and to the naturalness of their ensemble playing.

I was therefore eagerly anticipating their new disc, and it is no let down! These recent violin duets (mostly composed since 2000) are from six very different and individual composers, and all serve to further confirm how wonderful a combination the violin duo is (as do all the other recordings by the Gellands).

The CD starts on a high note with Birgitte Alsted’s Zweigeigen, a "9/11" influenced single movement work that compellingly explores a plethora of textures, colours and styles. The Gellands do a superb job in conveying the work’s architectural shape and form both in terms of dynamics and intensity. The quiet and atmospheric ending of this piece leads very naturally to another substantial work, Rolf Martinsson’s Symbiosis, which is also crafted - in principle - as a single movement (but this time divided with three clear sections). The duet plays the music very sensitively, the solos, colours and voice crossovers alternating very smoothly between the two performers.

Bernd Franke’s superb In between follows, and this is a work that also requires very serious attention. The composition is in fact a collection of very short, extremely virtuosic and very clearly articulated movements. The music has an almost manic quality to it, bursting with energy. Each short movement concentrates on particular textures and colours, with recurring pulsations and pitches that are featured in a different register and assigned a different colour each time they are reintroduced. Pulsations alternate very quickly between the two musicians, and the dense writing makes you think you are actually listening to a string trio, or at times even a quartet. Many processes are introduced cyclically, tastefully varied not only to achieve continuity but also to give to this collection of nine short movements a strong sense of unity.

Aonia terra by Max Käck comes next, very expertly performed; the composition’s formal transitions seem to take place almost effortlessly by the violinists and the music sounds very natural, a testament to the performers’ musicianship. This is a beautiful work that keeps one’s interest throughout: the way that the composer alternates between tasteful melodies and more abstract blocks of pure texture gives the work its distinct individual character. 

Ingvar Karkoff’s Gelland Suite comes as a very welcome change of character with its playfulness and almost “humorous” character. Karkoff composed this piece using traditional principles, but the result is not traditional at all! On the contrary, it is crafted very skilfully and cleverly, challenging areas of perception and memory, and proves that many formal and technical processes of the past can still be used today very effectively whilst simultaneously acquiring a new meaning.   

Last but certainly not least Olov Franzén’s three movement Autumn Duo concludes this programme, an immensely denseand intense piece, overcharged with emotion. It presents musicians and audience alike with a highly hierarchical vision of structure and rapidly shifting foreground and background materials. It is clearly articulated in three movements, crafted in such a way that during the course of time the material constantly builds up momentum and intensity as the music and character becomes more and more animated and agitated, even harsh at times. Autumn Duo has nevertheless an overall poignant quality, and the Gellands perfect partnership brings it to life exceptionally.

In fact, what is most striking throughout the disc is how the Gellands' performances sound so clean and well controlled, yet they still maintain a sound that is very free and of the utmost imaginative character.

This disc shows that Martin and Cecilia Gelland are not just two really fine violinists; they are two exceptional musicians speaking in one voice, truly among the world’s most convincing exponents of this medium and deservedly among the world’s leading violin duets. 

Evis Sammoutis

Evis Sammoutis, composer, was first encountered in Amsterdam with his violin duo Dimorphism [Editor]

Duo Gelland
Violin Duos Vol. 6

Oleg Gotskosik, Cecilia Franke, Johan Ramström and Hans-Erik Dahlgren

Duo Gelland, Cecilia and Martin Gelland, violins

nosag cd 181

Another great disc from this world-leading violin duo partnership; in their notes Mr & Mrs Gelland discuss how they've maintained "sparks of creativity" over 16 years and more of sharing their whole lives and musical lives.

Gotskosik's From the Jewish Folk tradition are distillations of this Uzbekistan born composer's memory of ethnic toleration in which he grew up - "at a Muslim friend's wedding they just naturally danced to Yiddish songs"...

Franke's music celebrates a mid-life change of direction by a late-developed composer of signal individuality. Dahlgren moves from "hyperactve self-projecting stress" to "more naked self reflection", with the natural "unprofessional" voices of the players contributing short texts, including "We are not allowed to know all things" [Horace]

- another strong addition to the Gellands' unique discography, and with more than 100 duos already dedicated to them, can you believe?

Peter Grahame Woolf