You’d be surprised what just two violins can do. Natsuko Yoshimoto and James Cuddeford, formerly the upper half of both the Australian String Quartet and Grainger Quartet, have long commissioned more than their fair share of inventive, witty and often very beautiful Australian duets. This excellent disc presents the final fruits of their joint mission and the array is diverse.
Echoes of folk music appear in Stuart Greenbaum’s Danny Boy Variations and Andrew Ford’s affecting pair of works, balanced by Cuddeford’s sober memorial to the victims of the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami. Roger Smalley and Elena Kats-Chernin both turn in sets of neat miniatures alongside a clever Compossible by David Harris. For me, however, the standouts are the opening and closing tracks. Matthew Hindson’s titular piece is hedonistic and energetic, maturely fusing his early attraction to pop music with new sonic complexities. By contrast Mary Finsterer’s Spherica No 1 is ethereal and otherworldly, the violins spinning a careful web of glistening harmonics.
Cuddeford and Yoshimoto were married at the time of this recording and the disc is by default a powerful portrait of their lengthy musical and personal partnership. The pair sound highly attuned to each other, almost as if playing a single instrument, which makes their subsequent split rueful indeed. The recording itself is beautiful and crystalline, a testament to the talents of Tall Poppies head Belinda Webster who recently received the coveted Don Banks Award for her longstanding efforts. Discs of this calibre justify the honour.