20th Century Duos

“In recent years Engine Company Records, an independent label in New York, founded by Blake Morgan, has had success with contemporary artists . . . But recently Mr. Morgan released the company’s first classical album, 20th Century Duos For Violin And Cello, with works by Zoltán Kodály, Roger Sessions and Maurice Ravel and performed by two brilliant and musically curious artists, the violinist Gil Morgenstern and the cellist Darrett Adkins. A recording of three seldom-heard works for an unconventional combination of instruments might seem a risky venture. But the music is terrific and the performances compelling on this surprisingly exciting and excellently engineered recording…”
—The New York Times

“The story here is the adventurousness of the recently founded indie label, Engine Company Records . . . It has boldly kicked off its classical line with an unusual program played by two outstanding American string musicians, violinist Gil Morgenstern and cellist Darrett Adkins . . . The pair’s best results come in the Kodály which, despite formidable competition from more than 20 available recordings (but not, unfortunately, the one that is arguably the best, by Heifetz and Piatigorsky), makes a strong and thrilling impression . . . Morgenstern and Adkins project with swing and passion, technical command, and musical exhilaration. No wonder their recording has excited so much interest.”
—Strings Magazine

(4.5 STARS) “The Kodály Duo for Violin & Cello has existed since 1914; in its long existence, it has been performed by countless duos and recorded dozens of times. In its recorded history, few efforts have come close to capturing the same level of Bohemian flare as cellist Janos Starker and violinist Josef Gingold. While their performance really exemplifies all that this piece has to offer, the present recording of violinist Gil Morgenstern and Darret Adkins comes excitingly close to capturing the same level of energy, gutturalness, and rhythmic panache . . . Both of these artists play with unbridled passion with never a sense of holding anything back. Their attacks on each note are almost brutal, yet they never demand more from their instruments than they can deliver. Intonation is superb, articulation is brilliantly matched, and the interplay between the two is seamless. If this was the only piece on the program, this disc would still be worth buying. Fortunately for listeners, there’s more. The Duo of Roger Sessions allows Morgenstern and Adkins another opportunity to demonstrate their total command of their instruments through the much more varied tonal language that Sessions employs. Closing out the album is another cornerstone of the repertoire, the Ravel Sonate for Violin and Cello. The slight haziness and mysteriousness that Morgenstern and Adkins add to their sound for this work round out an exceptional and completely worthwhile album.”
—All Music Guide