CHRISTOPHER HOGWOOD (1941-2014)

Conductor, Musicologist, Keyboard player

Duo Economique: Graaf's austerity measures met with approval

May 7, 2010

A year ago, Christopher's edition of Christian Ernst Graaf's Duo Economique (for two violinists on a single violin) offered an antidote, and an effective solution, to our straitened times. As the prospect of a hung parliament worries financiers, we continue to hear how the piece — published by Edition HH — is catching on with performers and audiences throughout Europe.

 

From the audience's perspective, much of the appeal of the piece lies in watching the two performers grapple with the logistics, and most follow the solution described in Christopher's Introduction:

The first violinist holds the violin and bows near the bridge, playing, for the most part, in third position (or higher) on the upper two strings; the second stands behind and bows nearer the fingerboard, playing in first position on the lower two (occasionally three) strings.
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In this way, Vreni Zeller and Edith Pécaut (right) recently performed the Duo to general amusement at the close of Frühlings-Singwoche, Switzerland; and Barbara Doll und Winfried Rademacher's performance last year of the second movement at Klassik Musikfest Mühlviertel, Germany, can be seen on YouTube.

However, others have experimented to come up with alternatives to suit the particular players involved. Husband-and-wife team, Steve Bingham and Brenda Stewart, reversed the position of the players for their Cambridge performance in May 2009, believed to be the modern premiere; and last month's performances in The Netherlands by members of the Van Swieten Society were even more adventurous: violist Bernadette Verhagen and cellist Job ter Haar played it, transposed, on viola, "standing opposite each other: Job ter Haar, our cellist, played on the neck as if it was a little cello"...

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