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GRAMOPHONE (06/2015)
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Reviewer: Lindsay Kemp

The Nemtanu sisters – Sarah, leader of the French National Orchestra, and Deborah, leader of the Paris Chamber Orchestra – have each made recordings on their own but come together here in what would surely be the first choice for any violin siblings, Bach’s Double Concerto. Their performance is attractive and neatly turned, especially in a tenderly flowing slow movement, though some listeners may wish for more drive in the finale. The chance to compare the two players comes in the solo concertos. Sarah seems a little coy in the outer movements of the E major, a touch too delicate perhaps, her frequent little piano feints bordering on the precious. The pleasantly light-paced slow movement, however, is sweetly spun, with the orchestra keeping what can often be an oppressive ostinato-like bass pattern well under control. Deborah is more assertive in her account of the A minor, throwing cheeky little ornaments into the first movement, finding the lyrical depth in the second, but losing some energy in a slightly sluggish gigue-finale. More duo-Bach is provided by a pair of short Two-Part Inventions on violin and viola, each tidily played and enlivened with cute little embellishments, but the disc is rounded off not with more Baroque but with the third of Schnittke’s six Concerti grossi. This is not a pastiche but a work that subverts Baroque-style patterns and gestures with static textures, moody harpsichord solos, a celesta, bells, gruffly resonant harmonies and soaring violins in a manner reminiscent of Tippett’s string-orchestra music, though without the same heady lyricism. Some toy-like, motoric circlings provide an enigmatic ending. The performance is a vibrant one, although as in the Bach I found the Paris Chamber Orchestra a touch distant.


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