10/3: Lechner and Couturier at the Rubin Museum

German cellist Anja Lechner and French pianist Francois Couturier have collaborated for more than a decade on a variety of projects. Moderato Cantabile, their recorded debut as a duo, came out a couple of weeks ago on ECM Records. They celebrate its release in NYC on Friday, October 3rd at the Rubin Museum of Art (details/ticket info here).

Moderato Cantabile is a considerably charming CD. It features works by 20th Century composers Gurdjieff, Mompou, and Komitas (all arranged by the duo), alongside Couturier’s own compositions. I’m particularly taken with the pianist’s “Voyage,” a work built around a ground bass that includes limpid soloing from Couturier and ardent, lyrical lines from Lechner. The duo’s elegant rendition of Komitas’s “Chinar Es,” with flowing, dovetailing melodies and breezy ostinatos is another of the disc’s highlights. Lechner crafts a web of pizzicato punctuations surrounding Couturier’s melodies on Mompou’s Impresiones intimas VIII “Secreto.” Then, the roles reverse and the cellist plays arcing lines to undulating accompaniment from the piano. The music itself is beautiful, but its rendering makes it even more so. It is the seamlessness with which Lechner and Couturier switch demeanors, respond to one another, and join their formidable musicality toward common aims that makes Moderato Cantabile memorable. I imagine this will be just as true of the duo when heard live in concert.


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