Opus Klassiek, Gerard Scheltens

What interests us is the artistic result of this beautiful connection between violin and cello. A CD program like this with a few different composers can result in a number of musical delicacies without coherence. To get from the pizzicati (‘Water Droplets’) of ten-year-old Jean Sibelius via Penderecki’s serene and elaborate ‘Ciaconna for Pope John Paul II’ to the tango sounds of Astor Piazzolla requires some agility, even at this high level of interpretation.

And how should the record collector classify such a CD in order to find it in their record cabinet? Such minor problems disappear when this fabulous interplay between two top performers automatically makes meaningful connections from one composition to the next. Then the Sibelius–Piazzolla route is not illogical at all, but becomes an adventurous ‘Pas de Deux’ full of discoveries.

The special timbre of the rare violin–cello combination helps to lead us through, as well as sometimes unexpectedly-equal roles of the high and low instruments. One might think: the violin has the melody and leads, while the cello accompanies. In Ravel’s brilliant sonata, which Rowland and Bogdanovic choose as their focal point, the roles are often reversed, insofar as the melody lines do not move contrapuntally and diatonically side by side.

Before this comes Debussy, with an adaptation of his Prélude (book I, no. 9) written for this disc by Craig White, a well-chosen ‘Iberian’ piece that fits perfectly into the atmosphere.

There are more premiere recordings on the CD, such as the serious, unmistakably-Baltic ‘Castillo Interior’ by the Latvian Pēteris Vasks, the passionately-propulsive ‘Heimat Terra’ by the Sicilian Giovanni Sollima, and the ominous, at times dizzying, ‘Die Albträume des Todes’ by Marcelo Nimisman, who like his teacher Astor Piazzolla lets the tango rise far beyond its traditional dance form. Finally, from Piazzolla himself, come three early tangos which bear all the promises the great Argentinian would later fulfil.

Since his departure from the Brodsky Quartet, Daniel Rowland has been busy with both solo work and chamber music in all kinds of settings. Maja Bogdanovic, from Belgrade, is well on the way to securing her place amongst the cello elite. Together, with this sophisticated programme of largely unknown but exciting music, they present a wonderful business card as a duo. More! More!

(Loosely translated)

de Volkskrant, Maartje Stokkers

Not so much a ballet courtship, Pas de Deux is the new album by violinist Daniel Rowland and cellist Maja Bogdanović. Death, with all its fear and acceptance, is the theme. The central piece is the sharp-edged Sonata for violin and cello by Maurice Ravel. Cutting dissonances, fierce strumming; these two strong musical individuals, Rowland and Bogdanović, find each other in soft, Debussy-like melodies.

Castillo Interior by Pēteris Vasks (73) is based on the visions of Spanish nun Teresa of Avila — the harmony and timing of the typical, long, meditative Vasks notes are gripping and heartbreaking at the same time, when serenity turns into fiery minimalism.

Particularly notable in this multicoloured album is Die Albträume des Todes; Chopin’s death march, with lashing strokes and icy chords, shadowed by tango-like rhythms and a Baroque sonata. Bandoneon player Marcelo Nisinman (49) composed the piece especially for this virtuoso musical couple.

(Loosely translated)

NRC, Joost Galema

Magical meeting of cello and violin

It’s not so often that violin and cello ask each other to dance — usually both of them prefer the piano. But if they do, it can lead to magical music. The earthy cello and floating violin explore each others worlds, or meet halfway. Violinist Daniel Rowland and cellist Maja Bogdanovic bring that feeling to life in their new album Pas de Deux. They dance from the cold north to the hot blooded south: from the barely audible ‘Water Droplets’ by ten-year-old Finn Sibelius to the tangos of the Argentinian Piazzolla. The heart of the disc is Ravel’s tribute to the then-recently-deceased Debussy. It is surrounded with works by the contemporary composers Penderecki, Vasks, Sollima and Nisinman. Here are musical memories that dance through space as ghostly figures, and are interpreted with great character, colour and depth.

(Loosely translated)

NPO Radio 4: ‘Discotabel’, Frederike Berntsen

A track from the new disc ‘Pas de Deux’ by Daniel Rowland and Maja Bogdanovic was reviewed in Dutch radio programme ‘Discotabel’ on NPO Radio 4 (the Netherlands’ equivalent of the UK’s BBC Radio 3).

On ‘Discotabel’, a panel of experts reviews new releases ‘blindly’ — only discovering details of the performers and recording after having given their review.

In this programme, Frederike Berntsten (reviewer for the ‘Trouw’ Dutch newspapers) listened to Daniel and Maja’s recording of Krysztof Penderecki’s Ciaconna in memoriam Giovanni Paolo II, and gave the following comments:

Gorgeous performance … And I really hear the ‘metier’ (ambacht) as if one feels (sees) the composer at work, as if the notes are being created in the moment … and such a deeply chestnutty warm sound, a true duo … they perform it fantastically, it is a true voyage of discovery — they know the music through and through also seem to be discovering it in the moment … wonderful, fragile, and tender.

(loose translation)

The whole programme can be heard here, with the section on Daniel and Maja’s recording starting at 40’15”.


Pas de deux

Colourful and lively: ‘Pas de Deux’ is the new album by violinist Daniel Rowland and cellist Maja Bogdanović. It contains several new pieces by contemporary composers, but also works by Maurice Ravel, Astor Piazzolla, Claude Debussy and Jean Sibelius — passing through all the colours of the rainbow.

Let’s travel a bit with Daniel and Maja. The journey starts with ‘Vattendroppar’ (‘Raindrops’), a charming musical sketch, brimming with love for nature, from the then ten-year-old Jean Sibelius. We have the ‘Ciaconna’, a subtle and virtuosic lament from Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki for Pope Johannes Paul II, who died in 2005. Next is the Latvian Pēteris Vasks, who bases his music here on a 1577 text by Saint Teresa of Ávila, a Spanish Carmelite and mystic. A little further on we come across Ravel, and his great ‘Sonata a la mémoire de Claude Debussy’, seen by the duo as their kaleidoscope, a magnifying glass that brings them both backwards and forwards in time. After a few stops, the journey ends with the tango music of the brilliant bandoneon virtuoso Marcelo Nisinman, a friend of Piazzolla. It seems inevitable that the journey ends with three early ‘Parisian’ tangos that the great tango specialist Piazzolla wrote when he lived in the French capital in the early 1950s.

(loosely translated)

Dubrovački Vjesnik (Dubrovnik Herald)

One week of Dubrovnik’s rich and vibrant musical autumn at the Rector’s Palace belongs, as of last year, to the Stradun Classic Festival. The festival operates under the banner of the Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra and was conceived by clarinetist Marija Pavlović. This year, the festival comprised five concerts featuring many excellent musicians.

Handel’s Passacaglia in G minor, arranged by J. Halvorsen, was performed by violinist Daniel Rowland and cellist Maja Bogdanovic.

Their instrumental colours blended wonderfully, and we were particularly fascinated by the consistency of the dynamic gradations. They were equally focussed in all aspects of the performance, so it seemed as if Rowland and Bogdanovic were breathing together.

‘Castillo Interior’ by P. Vasks was also performed by Rowland and Bogdanovic…

And again, this duo showed a striking alignment in temperament, tone and stylish shaping.

(Loose translation of the original )