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Milhaud's similarly short-lived Duo for two violins, Op 258 (1945) -- also featuring Ms Hughes -- another gutsy reading -- emerges unscathed. Its three movements are Gai, played with robust drive, Romance, convincingly sustained and Gigue, full-blooded yet a little laborious. The drone sequence is nicely managed though Skowronski and Hughes are characteristically a little shy with their dynamics.

Listen -- Milhaud: Romance (Duo) (track 7, 2:53-3:44)
© 2006 Skowronski Classical Recordings

My preference in the Honneger and Milhaud is the recording with violinists Daniela Preimesberger, and her mentor Thomas Christian on CPO. Their balanced programme also includes Eugène Ysaÿe's Sonatina for 2 violins (1915) and Milhaud's Sonata for 2 Violins in C major (1944).

Taniec 'Harnasoiw' (Dance of the Mountaineers) from Syzmanowski's opera/ballet Harnaise is heard in an arrangement by the composer's lifelong friend violinist, Pawel Kochanski (1887-1934). In the original form for tenor, chorus, and orchestra, Harnaise was inspired by folk sounds of the Tatra Mountains. It tells of a bride being willingly abducted on her wedding night by bandits in the Carpathian Mountains. This thrilling music is filled with harmonic and coloristic surprises.

Skowronski tackles the Lento molto tranquillo with a suitably veiled tone and his Vivace assai has all the necessary oomph -- sadly rather spoilt by doubtful double-stopping in the closing pages.

For the real McCoy try EMI's recording of these Syzmanowski selections with Simon Rattle, the CBSO and tenor Timothy Robinson.

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Copyright © 14 May 2008 Howard Smith, Masterton, New Zealand


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