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Fanfare Magazine: 39:4 (03-04/2016) 
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Musica Ficta

Code-barres / Barcode : 5410939802425


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Reviewer: Barry Brenesal

This album is very much a family affair. Jonathan Dunford was in his mid-20s when he traveled from Boston to Basel, to study with Jordi Savall. While there he met another student, Sylvia Abramowicz. He spoke no French at the time; she spoke very poor English. Whatever the reason—romantic, pragmatic, or both—they decided to get together and perform the suites for two viols of Marin Marais. Now they’re touring with a program of those suites, the continuo provided by their son, lutenist Thomas Dunford. This has the bare bones of a Hallmark special, if one isn’t careful. It’s more important to determine how well the disc plays out.

There are no causes for concern, fortunately. Dunford and Abramowicz have long performed together as “A 2 Violes Esgales.” They play with the kind of telepathy that only appears in long term chamber groups, or intimately married couples; preferably both. As individual musicians, there’s no room for complaint. Each revels in the full tonal possibilities of the bass viol, and manages the more agile works with ease. Thomas Dunford is an excellent lutenist, who has been reviewed in these pages primarily as an accompanist. On this album he gets one chance at a solo, his own transcription of Marais’s Les Voix Humaines (from the composer’s second viol book of 1701). It is a superb performance, a deceptively simple, leisurely study in stylish ornamentation and notes inégales.

The miking is close, with a nice bloom to the instruments that never draws attention away from where it should be, on the music. The timings are frankly too short, especially for music and performances of this quality. But if that doesn’t put you off, this release should certainly be on your next purchase list.

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