News/Special Offers
About ECM

BBC Music Magazine, Pick of the month
Neue Musikzeitung, Tip
Le Monde, CD of the year

Forty-four pieces for two violins, written as a teaching aid, hardly sounds like a recipe for a thrilling CD. But these tiny pieces, most of which come in under two minutes, are pocket masterpieces. The sound is astonishingly warm and the music is beautifully played by the outstanding soloists András Keller and János Pilz. Also included are two excellent, but very different, pieces by the Hungarian composers György Ligeti and György Kurtág, "Ballade and Dance" and "Ligatura".
Ivan Hewett, The Times

Keller and Pilz are so evenly matched in character that they could be one player. Bartók's 44 duos from Central European and Arabian folk melodies spin by in a current of rhythms that range from the soft rocking of a lullaby, "Gyermekrengeteskor", to the pinch and poke of a "teasing song", "Parosito", and the stomp of the Rumanian "whirling dance", "Forgatos". For the attentive listener there's much to be marvelled at. For those who just want evocative "ethnic" atmosphere it works too.
Anna Picard, The Independent

Glücklicherweise verbinden die Ungarn András Keller und János Pilz ihre sensationelle Palette an zart-brüchigen Klangfarben mit rhythmischem Esprit und einem feinen Instinkt für den ursprünglichen, zumeist eher derben Charakter dieser Musik. Die intensive Auseinandersetzung des Keller-Quartetts mit der Moderne, aber auch mit Bach ist unüberhörbar. Eine Referenzeinspielung!
Anselm Cybinski, Fono Forum

Based entirely on folk song (Hungarian, Serbian, Rumanian, Ruthenian, Slovak and Transylvanian) the duos are performed here with unflinching vigour by Keller and Pilz. From the bare-fifth double-stopping opening of the "Transylvanian Song" to the hypnotic harmonics of the final "Serbian Dance", the outstanding vitality with which these wonderful miniatures are performed banishes all thoughts of mere studies to the back of the mind.
Tarik O'Regan, The Observer

Ungarn, das ist Puszta, Paprikahendl, Teufelsgeigenmusik. András Keller und János Pilz vom Keller-Quartett räumen auf mit diesen Klischees. Ob Béla Bartóks 44 Duos für zwei Violinen, Ligetis deftig-melancholische Ballade und Tanz oder Kurtágs "Ligatura": stets grüßt das Folkloristische wie aus einem fremden Fotoalbum. Und so innig, so perfekt synchron die Tongebung der Beiden auch ist, nie verlieren sie die musikantische Lust: Ein richtiger Geiger muss immer auch ein bisschen Fiedler sein.
Christine Lemke, Der Tagesspiegel

Bartók's 44 Duos belong to a select rank of minor masterpieces for two violins that stretches from the duets of Spohr to the recent piece by Kurtág included here - a spectral chorale of exquisite beauty. Bartók wrote his highly inventive Duos - almost all of them arrangements of folksongs from various cultures - for a German violin pedagogue, grading them in order of technical difficulty. ... They were composed in the aftermath of his Fourth String Quartet, and there are echoes of that work's two scherzos in such pieces as the "Mosquito Dance", with its scurrying muted sounds, and in a number played pizzicato throughout. These performances, by two members of the Keller Quartet, are exemplary, hitting exactly the right tone of folk-like melancholy or exuberance (and sometimes both) for each piece. ... In addition to the Kurtág piece, Ligeti's Ballad and Dance, written in the same spirit as the Bartók, is a welcome bonus.
Misha Donat, BBC Music Magazine

Despite the extraordinary range of techniques and effects unleashed by Bartók elsewhere in his string writing - most notably in the Fourth String Quartet - the duos remain steadfastly true to their intentions as elementary teaching material. One might almost accuse Bartók of having gone too far, for even pizzicato is used surprisingly sparingly, with only the penultimate duo being for pizzicato alone. ... However, András Keller and János Pilz, both, incidentally, founder-members of the Keller Quartet, now offer the best of all possible worlds - tonal and technical sophistication, mesmerising interpretative insight and an intuitiveness so beguiling as to sweep the board in this repertoire. More than any other recording, Keller and Pilz swing the rhythms in an authentic folksong manner, so that one is barely aware of the music's didactic origins. Numbers like the Ruthenian Kolomejka, one of the duos most popular with students, sound for the world like a gipsy band at full pelt. Add to this typically unimpeachable ECM engineering, and you have a dream disc that goes straight onto my "best of year" shortlist.
Julian Haylock, The Strad

Die Besetzung mit zwei Violinen lässt trockene Übungen für den Geigenunterricht vermuten: wahrscheinlich lehrreich, sicher aber langweilig. In der Tat schrieb Béla Bartók die 44 Duos mit pädagogischem Hintergedanken, nämlich für eine 1931 entstandene Violinschule. Akademisch sind sie aber keineswegs, vor allem nicht in der hinreißenden Interpretation von András Keller und János Pilz. Es sind Miniaturen von geradezu archaischer Kargheit, Momentaufnahmen von oft nicht mehr als einer halben Minute Dauer. Mit sprödem Klang dialogisieren die Streicher, ohne sich im Wohlklang zu vereinen. Dissonante Schönheit, fragile Schlichtheit der niemals musikantisch mit großem Ton auftrumpfenden Violinen. Eine wie nur skizziert wirkende Musik mit sorgsam buchstabierten Kinderliedern, der hingehauchten Melancholie einfacher Volksweisen und flüchtigen Schatten derber Bauerntänze.
Sebastian Werr, Süddeutsche Zeitung