Double Play: Twentieth Century Duos for Violin &
Rachel Barton Pine, violin
Wendy Warner, cello
Cedille Records CDR 90000 047
A Personal Note from Rachel Barton Pine
Wendy Warner and I began playing chamber music together in 1985
at the Music Institute of Chicago (formerly the Music Center of
the North Shore) when I was 10 and she was 12. From the beginning,
we enjoyed rehearsing and performing together. We quickly became
fast friends and continued to play in string quartets until the
end of high school. In 1988, our group, the Diller String Quartet,
won first prize in the Junior Division of the Fischoff National
Chamber Music Competition. The two of us had as much fun jamming
on the last movement of the Prokofiev Quartet No. 2 as we had acting
silly at our hotel afterwards.
After high school, Wendy went off to Curtis (in Philadelphia) and
eventually settled in New York City. As each of us participated
in international competitions and launched solo careers, we always
kept in touch. We were reunited in 1996 to perform the Brahms Double
at the Grant Park Music Festival in Chicago. While each of us had
grown musically over the years, playing together was so natural
that it seemed as though we had never spent the time apart.
That performance inspired us to assemble a program of duos for
violin and cello. The Ravel and Kodaly, two of the most famous compositions
for this combination of instruments, were obvious choices. After
reading both of Martinu's Duos, we agreed that No. 2 was so energetic
and optimistic that we had to include it. Wendy introduced me to
composer Erwin Schulhoff, and I became a fan immediately. His Duo
for violin and cello had been recorded with others of his works,
but never with other violin/cello compositions. We were very excited
about presenting it among the more famous works in this genre, as
it more than holds its own.
It's a great pleasure to share with you this joyful collaboration
with one of my best friends and favorite musicians.
"DOUBLE PLAY - DUOS FOR VIOLIN AND CELLO"
by Todd E. Sullivan
The violin and cello have enjoyed a relatively limited musical
partnership over the past two centuries. Duo literature specifically
geared toward the amateur salon-music audience proliferated during
the Classical and early-Romantic periods. Some composers wrote specifically
for violin and cello, focusing on the string members of the then-defunct
Baroque solo sonata grouping. Music publishers seeking the largest
possible clientele also issued scores in flexible instrumentation
with violin and cello as one option. By contrast, the twentieth
century has seen a surge of violin and cello duo writing for professional
musicians. Composers have responded less to market demand than personal
circumstances, such as collaborations between colleagues, a poignant
or tragic moment in time, or just the sheer intimacy of the duo
A native of Poliãka, Bohemia, Bohuslav Martinu (1890-1959)
lived most of his adult life - thirty-six years - outside his homeland,
first in Paris, then the United States, and finally back in western
Europe. In October 1957, the composer and his wife Charlotte were
once again on the move. MartinÛ, having just completed a consulting
professorship at the American Academy of Music in Rome, sought a
quiet place to complete his opera The Greek Passion, based on Nikos
Kazantsakis' novel, Christ Crucified. The couple traveled to Paris
for two weeks, visited their former villa on Mont Boron (near Nice),
and eventually settled in Switzerland.
The Martinus enjoyed the generous hospitality of Maja and Paul
Sacher, the Swiss conductor, at their Schönenberg Estate in
Pratteln. Charlotte recalled, "We lived there surrounded by
nature, in great stillness, in a comfortable apartment, warmed by
the deep friendship of the Sachers." Martinu needed this support
and peace more than ever: painful inflammation in his hands made
writing nearly impossible, or at least illegible, a situation relieved
slightly by electric therapy. Less hopeful, though, was his other
infirmity, an incurable case of stomach cancer diagnosed during
surgery for a suspected ulcer on November 7, 1958. Martinu died
nine months later on August 28, 1959.
The Duo No. 2 for Violin and Cello quickly emerged over a four-day
period at Schönenberg, June 28-July 1, 1958. Swiss musicologist
Ernst Mohr commissioned this work to honor the fiftieth birthday
of his wife, Trauti Mohr. Martinu did not live to hear his duo performed:
violinist Hansheinz Schneeberger and cellist Dieter Stehelin gave
the first private reading in Basel on March 4, 1962 and the public
premiere in the spring of 1963.
Martinu sustains high energy throughout his Allegretto by contrasting
metrically ambiguous duo writing with short, lilting, and often
very French-sounding chordal segments. The two string partners merge
as one voice in the Adagio's initial phrases, although the cello
deferentially moves its chord accompaniment into the background
for the violin's contrasting theme. In the Poco allegro, a Bartókian
spirit pervades the wild refrain theme, with its bariolage (a bowing
effect involving rapid shifting between strings) and tight wavering
around a single pitch.
The Czech-born composer and pianist Erwin Schulhoff (1894-1942)
received early musical encouragement from Antonín Dvorák.
On his advice, the ten-year-old Erwin entered the Prague Conservatory.
He later studied in Vienna, Leipzig (with Max Reger), and Cologne.
Other important musical influences of his youth included Richard
Strauss, Claude Debussy (with whom Schulhoff had private lessons
in Paris), and members of the modern Russian school: Mily Balakirev,
Anatoly Liadov, and Alexander Scriabin. At age seventeen, Schulhoff
won Leipzig's Mendelssohn Prize for piano and, five years later,
Four years of military service during World War I changed the direction
of Schulhoff's life. But action on the Russian and Italian fronts
did not prevent Schulhoff from composing - even as he battled to
save his hands from frostbite in Russia. He emerged from combat
with a sizeable body of new works. After the war, he remained in
Germany, cultivated an association with the avant-garde Dadaist
movement, and became heavily influenced by jazz. Arnold Schoenberg's
expressionist techniques and the neo-Classical idiom of Igor Stravinsky
also informed his broadening, eclectic style.
Schulhoff returned to Prague in 1923 to teach private piano lessons,
and instrumentation and score-reading at the conservatory. His compositions
during this period display the growing influence of Czech folk music.
He also found a direct source of inspiration in fellow countryman,
Leos Janácek. Schulhoff knew several of Janácek's
works, in particular the opera Jenufa, which he had prepared as
répétiteur for a 1918 performance in Cologne. Then,
in 1924, he published an article in Anbruch commemorating Janácek's
seventieth birthday; the master, in turn, later expressed his deep
gratitude to "my dear friend."
The Duo for Violin and Cello - composed between February 2 and
5, 1925 (the revised score is dated November 11, 1925) and dedicated
to "Mr. Leos Janácek in deep admiration" - illustrates
Schulhoff's persuasive merger of folk and contemporary elements.
Its initial pentatonic counterpoint quickly "modernizes"
with the free introduction of chromatic pitches. Schulhoff recycles
this material in later movements as a means of integrating the entire
work. For example, the finale begins with a compressed version of
this opening duo. The five-beat meter and complex rhythmic subdivisions
of the opening Moderato are characteristic of many Central European
folk music traditions. As the movement progresses, modern string
effects such as left-hand pizzicatos and artificial harmonics appear.
The Zingaresca sizzles with fiery Hungarian fiddle playing. Schulhoff
at times seems to imitate Janáãek's technique of rotating
variations of simple melodic cells, as in the Andantino movement
and the finale's Presto fanatico conclusion. Stanislav Novák
and Maurits Frank gave the world premiere in Prague on October 30,
An avowed communist, Schulhoff considered relocating his family
to the Soviet Union in 1939, after the signing of the Munich Agreement
and Hitler's seizure of Czechoslovakia. He took Soviet citizenship
in 1941, but his efforts to avoid the Nazis failed. Schulhoff, a
Czech Jew now associated with an enemy nation, was captured and
imprisoned in the Wälzburg concentration camp, where he died
from tuberculosis on August 18, 1942.
For a commemorative issue of La Revue Musicale (December 1, 1920),
editor and musicologist Henri Prunière commissioned several
works in memory of Claude Debussy, who had died two years earlier.
The musical contributors were all of international caliber: Béla
Bartók, Paul Dukas, Manuel de Falla, Eugene Goossens, Gian
Francesco Malipiero, Albert Roussel, Erik Satie, Florent Schmitt,
and Igor Stravinsky. Maurice Ravel (1875-1937) offered a
single-movement memorial composition for violin and cello.
During the summer of 1921, Ravel returned to his violin and cello
score while vacationing in the Basque region. These comfortable
ancestral surroundings - his mother was Basque - inspired a more
colorful vision of the music: Ravel's friend and biographer Roland-Manuel
(pseudonym of Alexis Manuel Lévy) reported that the composer
commenced the Lent in black and blue pencil and changed to poppy
yellow in the middle. The original commemorative piece took its
place as the first movement of this large-scale sonata. The project
proved troublesome for Ravel: "This rascal of a duo makes me
extremely ill," he reported in September 1921. On January 30,
1922, he wrote to music critic Michel-Dimitri Calvocoressi expressing
dissatisfaction with the scherzo. Ravel threw out the movement,
immediately began its replacement, and completed the four-movement
score in February.
The difficulty of composing for this sparse two-instrument texture
ultimately diverted Ravel into new stylistic territory, marked by
a contrapuntal orientation and concise Classical structures, very
near Debussy's later music. Ravel understood this work's significance
to his creative development: "I believe this sonata marks a
turning point in the evolution of my career. In it, thinness of
texture is pushed to the extreme. Harmonic charm is renounced, coupled
with an increasingly conspicuous reaction in favor of melody."
He did not easily recover from the experience, however, and produced
only one minor work over the next two years.
In the opening Allegro, the violin repeats a bimodal pattern, alternating
A-minor and A-major arpeggios, in quasi-ostinato fashion. This basic
idea, though transformed in character, reappears in the three remaining
movements: the scherzo's pizzicatos constantly shift between C-natural
and C-sharp (in the context of "A" chords); these motives
are rearranged to create the slow movement's canonic theme; and
the finale juxtaposes several new ideas with first-movement motives.
Ravel occasionally extends half-step relationships to a tonal level,
such as the bitonal passage in the scherzo that pits B major against
Arbie Orenstein observed that the final two movements convey a
Hungarian quality in their "folk flavor" and "driving
and harsh dissonances." Ravel evidently knew Kodály's
duo, written eight years earlier; his original title ("Duo")
made the connection more apparent. The direction of influence might
not be so clear cut, however. In a 1918 memorial tribute to Debussy,
Bartók commented that "It was of great interest to us
Hungarians that we could see the influence of eastern European folksong
in Debussy's melodies; certain pentatonic progressions were noticeable
such as are found in the ancient Hungarian melodies, especially
those in the Székely region." So Ravel may have absorbed
these qualities indirectly, through his deceased countryman.
Violinist Hélène Jourdan-Morhange, who played the
sonata's world premiere with Maurice Maréchal at a Société
Musicale Indépendante concert at the Salle Pleyel on April
6, 1922, recalled the precise ensemble coordination Ravel demanded
of his performers. The scherzo movement required countless repetitions
("The cellist and I went over it again and again till we were
giddy") to ensure uniform spiccatos in the two string instruments.
Jourdan-Morhange protested: "'It's complicated,' I said, in
order to keep my end up. 'The cello has to sound like a flute and
the violin like a drum. It must be fun writing such difficult stuff
but no one's going to play it except virtuosos.' 'Good!' he said,
with a smile, 'then I shan't be assassinated by amateurs!'"
Zoltán Kodály (1882-1967), the Hungarian composer,
pedagogue, and ethnomusicologist, composed his Duo for Violin and
Cello, Op. 7 in 1914. Imre Waldbauer and Jenö Kerpely gave
the first performance in Budapest on May 7, 1918. Kodály
owed a considerable debt to these two artists, who individually
and as members of the Waldbauer Quartet promoted his works both
at home and abroad. Non-Hungarian audiences first encountered Kodály's
music at the Festival Hongrois in Paris (March 1910; Kerpely and
Béla Bartók performed the Sonatina for Cello and Piano
on March 17) and the International Congress of Musicians in Rome
(April 1911). The lively aesthetic debate and controversy sparked
by these performances enhanced Kodály's international reputation.
Bartók, who with his compatriot became known as the "young
barbarians" from Hungary, reported after the Paris festival
that "Kodály had an enormous success. The effect of
his program was quite sensational, for here was a man emerging from
complete obscurity to become one of the foremost composers."
The early 1910s witnessed Kodály's rise to prominence in
other musical avenues as well. He and Bartók laid plans to
establish the New Hungarian Music Association with its own orchestra
and journal, but the idea never reached fruition. They collaborated
on an ambitious folksong project - the accumulation of more than
3,000 melodies collected in Transylvania - and, in 1913, pitched
their Plan for a New Universal Collection of Folk Songs to the Kisfaludy
Society, which politely declined. Kodály again ventured into
the countryside to record peasant songs among the Székely
people of Bucovina in 1914. He also taught composition at the Budapest
Academy of Music, which awarded him full tenure in 1912.
Kodály's dual professional interests as a music ethnographer
and teacher ultimately coalesced in a vision for the future regeneration
of Hungarian music, beginning with the reform of music education
in elementary school. "The foundations of a genuinely national
musical consciousness have to be unearthed from beneath the accumulated
rubble of Hungarian indifference and a misconceived and outmoded
method of training . . . Our movement rejects all distinctions based
on class or social status. Music belongs to all." His populist,
folk-based approach provided a model for educational systems worldwide.
The Duo for Violin and Cello, Op. 7 models perfectly the cross-pollination
of Hungarian folk materials and the formal structures of art music.
Its opening pentatonic melody falls into the Dorian mode, while
a contrasting theme, alternating melodic phrases and pizzicato accompaniment,
sounds Aeolian. Intensely heartfelt lyricism, which occasionally
bursts forth in deep torment, courses through the Adagio. The middle
section employs a "trio" texture: the cello provides the
bowed soprano melody and a plucked bass accompaniment, while the
violin spins an active countermelody in the alto range. Kodály's
Magyar-styled finale simulates the radical tempo changes of the
verbunkos (recruiting dance) style with its exciting alternation
of slow (friss) and rapid (lassu) sections.
- © Todd E. Sullivan 1999
Todd E. Sullivan is Assistant Professor of Music (musicology) at
Indiana State University and is program annotator for the Ravinia
About the Instruments
Rachel Barton plays the ex-Lobkowicz Antonius & Hieronymous
Amati of Cremona, 1617, on generous loan from her patron.
The Seal of the Lobkowicz Family on the back of the violin identifies
it as one of the instruments held by this illustrious European family.
Prince Lobkowicz was a significant patron of Beethoven.
The Amati family is responsible for the violin as we know it today.
Andreas Amati invented the violin c. 1550. His sons Antonius and
Hieronymous, known as the Brothers Amati, brought violin making
forward into the 17th century. Hieronymous's son Nicolo continued
to nearly the end of the 17th century and was the teacher of Andreas
Guarneri and Antonio Stradivari.
The violin Miss Barton plays is a particularly fine example of
the makers' work and is excellently preserved. The top is formed
from two pieces of spruce showing fine grain broadening toward the
flanks. The back is formed from two pieces of semi-slab cut maple
with narrow curl ascending slightly from left to right. The ribs
and the original scroll are of similar stock. The varnish is golden-brown
For this recording, Wendy Warner performed on a 1707 Joseph Filius
Andreas Guarneri, courtesy of Morel & Gradoux-Matt, Inc.
Barton and Wendy Warner] are major virtuosos who collaborate like
The players' coordination and virtuosity are
reminiscent of those of the best string quartets of today (think
Emerson), and the generous program is vividly recorded. A superb
disc in every respect. Encore!"
Editorial Review - Amazon.com
"Barton and Warner [play] this demanding music with virtuosity,
virility, and the ability to play an accelerando that really goes
over the top
Their Ravel balances lyricism with technical
brilliance in a performance that rivals Jaime Laredo and Yo-Yo Ma."
American Record Guide
"The musical communication between "childhood friends"
Rachel Barton and Wendy Warner results in a natural, brilliantly
Their partnership is a generous, equal one:
and their timbres are ideally matched... musicianship of mature
insight, hair-raising electricity, and intense involvement
A January 2000 Strad Selection
"flair and imagination
intelligently realized... energetic
and intensely passionate... brilliantly conveyed
a most distinguished
"There is a lot of energy on this disc, a lot of virtuosic
intensity and yet when gentleness and something lovely and tender
is called for, Ms. Barton and Ms. Warner are meltingly warm and
soulful. If you like chamber music for string instruments, you couldn't
ask for anything better than this CD."