on September 12, 2000
Bartok's solo violin sonata is one of his most haunting masterpieces, and Gyorgy Pauk's performance equals or surpasses any of the half dozen or so I have heard. The Duos are also given a wonderfully lively and accomplished rendition, and the sound on this CD leaves nothing to be desired. A genuine bargain, as are Pauk's other Bartok recordings on Naxos. I like to put my CD player on random and let this one fill the room for its generous 73 minutes. (Listening to the entire set of duos in order can take the sparkle off them somewhat.)
on August 15, 2001
I found the sound quality superb on this recording of the 44 duos, which I find poignant and pungent whether listened to in sequence or shuffled. The two artists give sensitive and articulate versions of the Bartok pieces. I found some of the bowing particularly evocative and haunting on the sonata for solo violin, with which I was hitherto unfamiliar.
The moods of joy, contemplation, sadness, anger, etc. to the duos, as well as their diversity in form and complexity, make them endlessly listenable for me. I love this recording.
on March 28, 2013
Somehow, due to my personal deep respect and love for the folk music, and due to other circumstances, I have many lovers of folk music and especially neofolk among friends and acquaintances. Yet, the majority of neofolk music leaves a baffling impression and anxiety. The archaic folk music, as a music itself, if written in Western notation (when it is possible) is not that great. Yet, many more dimensions inherent in it - fatality, cultural information, mythological images, symbolism, cosmological events, life circle, rampage of life, exotic musical modes - makes it as profound as one can imagine. And a certain subtlety and tenderness as well as refined taste is needed if one wants to show his/her respect for the folk music in the manner of presenting own interpretation. Alas! Imprints from the aesthetics of neopaganism, rock music, jazz, techo music, if superimposed without tenderness, spoils the folk music, deletes all cultural dimensions, and leaves only notes and sounds. That is why, at least for me, the requirements for neofolk of handling folk music are especially high and demanding; in majority of cases, these are failed.
But luckily, there are other examples - A. Lyadov, N. Rimsky-Korsakov, B. Kutavicius, and many others. But I always dream that friends with deep interest in folk music discover the first example of this sort - Béla Bartók.
Folk music lives a life of its own, and the way Bartók chooses to reveal his passion for folk music is amazing to listen to and for studying as well. Rich harmony, techniques, textures, rhythms, re-composition, style, stylization, scale, amplitude of emotions - he does not subtract anything essential from the folk music. The cultural dimensions are sometimes put aside, but these are recovered via musical means.
And a collection of 44 duos for two violins is a great example of this sort. There is little to add to other reviewers. Sound quality is superb. Moreover, György Pauk plays on 1714 Massart Stradivarius, and Kazuki Sawa plays on 1732 Arkwright Joseph Guarnerius del Gesu violin. This disc is one of my favourites and most often played.
on July 30, 2001
The Sonata and the 44 Duos are wonderful pieces to be sure, and Pauk's interpretation is good. However, the sound quality on this and every other Naxos recording I have ever heard is bad. Do Bartok the courtesy of listening to a good recording of this fantastic music.