J. S. Bach and Germany

We’re thrilled to celebrate the official release of our new CD J.S. Bach: Six Sonatas for Violin and Keyboard. This is tremendously beautiful music and recording these sonatas was both a richly rewarding process and a somewhat daunting one – the enormity of a genius such as Bach tends to do that!

We’ve put together a short video trailer that tells a bit about our journey with beloved Bach and these six pieces. Our sincere thanks and admiration to Rich Blenkinsopp at Memorial University for his technical and artistic expertise in creating this video. The recording is available through Amazon and ArchivMusik among others.

We’ve just returned from concert tours of the UK and Germany. We played in scenic Wales for the first time and returned to Cambridge University for two concerts. In Germany we played six concerts and logged 2500+ km of driving, which took us from the Cologne area to Leipzig and Dresden, then to Bavaria, and finally ending in Mönchengladbach, north of Düsseldorf. It is always so exciting to play for German audiences because they have such a deep appreciation for and sense of ownership of this music – their music!

Some press quote for the Duo recent Germany tour:
“In Johann Sebastian Bach’s E major Sonata Duo Concertante found a beautiful balance in the slow movements – on one hand not too romantic, on the other not too austere. Their fast movements were performed with ease, lightness and naturalness. Following a very lively performance of the G Major Sonata of Beethoven (op. 96), and after much enthusiastic applause, the audience was treated to two encores: a rousing, spirited and virtuosic rendition of Aram Khachaturian’s “Sabre Dance” and the first movement of the A major sonata by Johann Sebastian Bach.
Rheinische Post (Mönchengladbach)

“Duo Concertante impresses with their technical brilliance, but their musicality is even more special. They play the works of Beethoven, Bach and Schubert with complete clarity … [and] often begin passages as if from nothing and grow to explosive climaxes. The Schubert in particular unfolded as if from within a vast orchestral soundscape. This recital was a highpoint of the Pianoforte series. “ Rheinische Post (Xanten)

“The Duo captures extreme changes in mood – from despondency to joyousness – with vitality, and always in synchronicity. As an encore the Duo presented a spirited, vigorous and wild Khachaturian’s Sabre Dance, precise down to the last note. There was tremendous applause for the inspired playing of these two artists of international stature.” Augsburger Allgemeine

Nancy dancing in the rain in Xanten.

Nancy dancing in the rain in Xanten


Double Concerto CD is here! (And a bit about how it all came to pass…)

We’re excited to announce the release of our new CD of Double Concertos by Andrew P. MacDonald and Mendelssohn, with the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra and Marc David! Some of the highlights on the rather long journey to making this disc:

– Over 15 years ago: After hearing Andrew MacDonald’s JUNO award winning and beautiful violin concerto, we decide to commission a double concerto by this amazing composer. So, we do, with the help of the Canada Council for the Arts and the enthusiasm of the NSO, with whom we premiere the work in St. John’s.

– 2001- 2013: Numerous performances of Andrew’s Double Concerto as well as the Mendelssohn with various orchestras in NS, PEI, and ON help us to feel like we really “know” these pieces.

– About 5 years ago: We start thinking, ”Wouldn’t it be great to make a recording which shows off some of the classical music talent in Newfoundland and Labrador?” (The NSO has grown under Marc’s leadership and they have never made a commercial recording.)

– 2011-2014: Finding the $$$. Numerous grant applications (Tim spent hours figuring out FACTOR) and other ideas – some successful, some not – finally enable us to fund this ambitious project. We’re grateful for the support of FACTOR, the Newfoundland Labrador Arts Council, Memorial University, the NSO Foundation Inc., and numerous private donors (many through a Kickstarter campaign).

– 2013: The engineer we line up for the project — multi award winning producer/engineer Carl Talbot — breaks his hand. We need to completely reschedule the recording sessions and release plan. The project is delayed 10 months. Finding synergy in the schedules of conductor, producer, 60 players, and hall is no small feat! On top of all of this, there is still a lot of financial uncertainty. Our friend, Tom Gordon, tells us to persevere.

– September 2014: Three intense days of recording finally take place at the DF Cook Hall. Somehow we fit 60+ musicians on the relatively small stage, plus a grand piano. Andrew and Carl Talbot fly in from QC. Carl, who does a fabulous job, turns out to be more than worth the rescheduling hassles!

– December 2014 – March 2015: Final editing choices (hours of listening), reports to grant agencies (more hours trying to decipher FACTOR budgets), writing liner notes – but the end is in site!

– May 2015: The CD is released on the excellent Marquis Classics label! We did it!

This recording is dedicated to the memory of Gerry Germain, a great supporter of the arts in Newfoundland and Labrador, and in particular the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra and the Tuckamore Festival. He is dearly missed.

Duo Concertante also wishes to acknowledge the support of Timothy Brennan, Alice Collins, Margery and Raymond Dahn, Angela Dawe, Deborah Glassman, Terry Goldie, Adam Gravelle, Carolyn Jones, and Chris Ryan and our other Kickstarter campaign backers. We also wish to extend a special thank you to Lynn Kuo, guest concertmaster for the recording, and to Heather McKinnon, chair of the NSO, whose strong commitment to this project was critical.

Duo Concertante on CBC’s The Sunday Edition

We were incredibly pleased to be featured a couple few ago on the CBC’s The
Sunday Edition with the outstanding and legendary broadcaster Michael
Enright. What an honour to be on a show which we have admired and enjoyed
for so many years!

After a very long day of recording Bach at the Glenn Gould Studio we went up
to the third floor of the CBC Toronto building and sat down for a 30 minute
chat with Michael Enright. We talked about the beginnings of Duo
Concertante, the challenges and rewards of playing Beethoven, Bach,
Canadian new music, the Tuckamore Festival, and of being life partners
and parents. If you’d like to hear the broadcast it is here in podcast form. Our feature is in the 3rd hour, so about 1:45 in, though we highly recommend listening to the whole show!