REFLECTIONS Kapustin/Jagers

Sarah Kapustin, violin; Roeland Jagers, viola
Navis Classics (2020)

‘Reflections’ is a new release from Navis Classics featuring Sarah Kapustin on violin and Roeland Jagers on viola. The duo present a clean yet breathy tone. You often hear the performer’s breath (performers’ breaths) in the exquisite ‘live’ studio production. The phrasing is dynamic and forceful but not forced. It is at the edge of a natural and easy sense of both timbre and rhythm.

The collection opens with a series of short and intriguing canons by Josquin des Prez. In order, these form a satisfying narrative. The semi-dissonant cadences resolve with a legitimate melancholy befitting these extraordinary times. It seems to disperse into the resonant and electrifying Martinu ‘Duo’. Like off-kilter Vivaldi, brief, beautiful, but brilliant. ‘Allegro’ and its bookend are stirring and fiery. And, in between, the variant phrases of ‘Lento’ reflect upon the route travelled.

A pair of Bach canons arranged by Forbes embody an earlier Baroque airiness, and also flow into the other. The recording overall combines traditional and contemporary approaches. A Mozart ‘Duo’ (KV 424) marks a softer start, saved by a delicious raspiness well-suited to its sing-song motifs. Amadeus, typically, covers a wider scope (the first and last movements the longest on the album). To revert to the Baroque once more, a pair of ‘Cantiones’ by Lasso belie that same lightness of touch on a reduced scale.

However, Toch’s divertimenti initially offer a sombre palette in contrast. It is interjected with pizzicato patterning, to return proceedings to a Modernist aspect. The central ‘Adagio’ soars refreshingly high. The CD closes with a coupling of recent pieces, written for the players by Joey Roukens. These are ‘Chorale for Sarah and Roeland’ plus the soothing ‘A Little Baby Lullaby’. Roukens’ gently exploratory style maintains harmonic tradition whilst refuting sentimentality. Thus, introducing, as an ending, new colours to the listener.

Amidst these dark days, this wonderful CD uplifts the soul. The programming of the collection – like its content and performance – is sensitive, imaginative, and commendable.

– Martin Slidel

The CD is available from Presto, and is also available as a digital download.

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