1. Yes! Let’s dance; steady as she goes. 2. The foliage is flying, sliding high and dry. 3. Impish hide-and-seek. If salvation is found, can we ever play again? 4. Beautifully anguished violin; the voice exhales, turning art on its head. 5. Embracing comfort and warmth. 6. Violin above and below; sprinkled pizzicati add spice. The voice is all-powerful and central. A final chat speaks volumes, evermore. 7. So many moods, so little time. 8. Sing, sprecht and mischievous pluck. 9. The voice marvellously threads through the frantic fiddle. 10. The journey of pain leaves gawkers stymied. Thank goodness for a rare V-I. 11. Waking up is hard to do; much bow-scratch chips away at the power of misery. 12. Now hear this. 13. The compelling agony of the physical fuels self-assurance and bowless interventions. 14. Talk to me! Higher and higher. 15. A famous support and also mine. Harmonic surprise highlights the sense of all that’s incredibly possible between a pair of disparate souls. 16. An important milestone of life’s l-o-n-g journey. →. 17. Resolute strength of conviction; thoughtful pause; congenial violin. 18. Quiet now, reflect (magical entries and intervals from both). After rare consonance, the violin smoothly colours the dusk and redefines “seul.” 19. Tortured thoughts echo. The devil barks with ghoulish frenzy.
20. A marvel of conviction and control. All fall down. The trinity of tones from two; violin talks, voice comments. Uncoiling dissonance; scraps of unity; bit of me. Such a slow realization—those are the best ones.
21. The stuff of self. Filled with energetic anxiety. 22. Which is it? Consequence to come or revelling in the moment. 23. Where I live—the key to all. The fortress is full. Open and close. 24. Consonant grit and grime. Marvellous “glissandoing” strings, replete with devilish tuning. 25. The nightmare recurs. 26. The shape of purity and decay. 27. More of me: allegro hesitato. 28. Uptight and personal. At what price will the path be reached? 29. Nervoso molto: the fear of discovery—mine and theirs. Bridge tremolo. Which one to choose, if I were to venture forth. 30. Universal advice regarding the loss of self. 31. Imagine that. Scaling the fantastic vision. Unison points of reference. 32. Once again the dance is engagingly light. The tram starts to move. The violin tune self-punctuated with pizzicato. At last, something I really know, if written by another; is that my stop or double stop? Let’s stay on track. Er, wow!
33. At sea in misery; such large intervals of love. The wonder of togetherness, yet still alone. 34. Try, try, try again … perhaps. 35. Catch me if you can? Yes, always! 36. Connecting to the path of self: shimmer, grab, pluck. 37. Animal instinct: once aroused, it never recedes. Spot the imposter! 38. An epidemic of self-doubt. Perpetuum hesitato interno. Let’s … keep this to ourselves. 39. Nowhere near myself. The map long gone. 40. Slithering forward; frightening those who don’t understand us along the way. Whistle and bounce. Take a breath, take a bow. In the company of dread: shine on. Wordless tongues flicker “ensemble” then we disappear into a life.
Included in the package is a DVD containing a live performance (two weeks after the CD was recorded) in Yerevan, Armenia as well as a few moments from the composer’s master class with the performers in Budapest, Hungary. The latter is most instructive. We see the painstaking detail (30 minutes on eight notes) that Kurtág demands of the—at times—overwhelmed duo (at one point, soprano Tony Arnold has a good cry while violinist Movses Pogossian is put through his paces). As the multilingual taskmaster says “We must take torture.”
Curiously, Nareg Hartounian’s camera, with its uneven pans and tight close-ups, more detracts than enhances the music. Like Kafka’s writing, listeners/readers need to develop their own picture of what is transpiring, then come to their own conclusions as to just what these two K.s actually meant. JWR