- Duet for violin & viola in C major, Op. 9
- Duet for violin & viola in B flat major, Op. 13
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This 2004 Pan Classics release was reissued on Glossa's budget Cabinet line in 2014. That may seem a surprise in that the Milanese composer and virtuoso violinist Alessandro Rolla remains almost completely unknown; it's not a name that would draw customers, even with Glossa's impressive graphic design, and even with the presence of the luminous Isabelle Faust on violin. The fact is, though, that the recording gained a circle of connoisseur admirers, and its reissue is welcome. Even the booklet sells the music short, stating that it's "not outstandingly original," but actually it's one-of-a-kind for anyone interested in how musical knowledge works its way down to the chamber level. Rolla wrote most of these duets for himself and another performer, around 1820, and they're compact evocations of music in larger media. Sample the very Beethovenian "Allegro" of the "Duet in C minor, Op. 4, No. 2," for instance; the music does not simply make big minor-key gestures, but holds together in a Beethovenian way. Also quite modern are the "pollacca" and "Pollonese" movements, very early examples of the flowering of Polish and Eastern European rhythms that were to come, and very elegantly handled by Faust and violist Thomas Riebl. The music is not outwardly showy, but string players will noticed many small technical ingenuities, and the superb engineering by Koichiro Hattori, working at Switzerland's Künstlerhaus Boswil, is almost worth the price of admission in itself; Riebl's viola seems to purr. Strongly recommended.