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Friday, August 11, 2017

James Horner - Pas de Deux (Mari & Håkon Samuelsen)


Composer: James Horner; Arvo Pärt; Giovanni Sollima; Ludovico Einaudi
  1. Horner - Pas de Deux, double concerto for violin, cello and orchestra: Part I
  2. Horner - Pas de Deux, double concerto for violin, cello and orchestra: Part II
  3. Horner - Pas de Deux, double concerto for violin, cello and orchestra: Part III
  4. Pärt - Fratres, for violin, string orchestra and percussion
  5. Sollima - Violoncelles, Vibrez!, for two cellos and string orchestra
  6. Einaudi - Divenire, for violin, cello, strings and two harps
  7. Horner - Arabesque from Pas de Deux

Mari Samuelsen, violin
Håkon Samuelsen, cello
Alisa Weilerstein, cello (5)
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Vasily Petrenko, conductor (1-3, 7)
Clark Rundell, conductor (4-6)

Date: 2015
Label: Mercury Classics



Pas de Deux is not a James Horner score for an unknown film but a freestanding composition, being billed as his first foray into classical music since the 1980s. Leaving aside the question of whether film scores qualify as classical music, it seems pretty clear that those who like Horner in general will like this work. Here and elsewhere, he does one thing well -- lush romanticism -- and does it very, very well. His economy of gesture, which makes one wonder why neutral arpeggios are having such an emotional impact, is fully in evidence here, and the configuration of forces, with lots to do for the two soloists, produces film score-like textures. The Norwegian violin-and-cello duo of Mari and Håkon Samuelson commissioned Pas de Deux, and though it is being promoted as the first major double concerto for violin and cello since Brahms, Horner himself has described the piece as a composition for violin and cello with orchestral accompaniment rather than as a true concerto. For all that, Pas de Deux does not really resemble Horner's film scores musically. It has elements that suggests what might have happened had Vaughan Williams somehow lived long enough to become enamored of minimalism, and it shows that Horner has been keenly aware of contemporary crossover directions. The work is performed here by the Samuelsens and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic under Vasily Petrenko, the forces that premiered the work in 2014, and it's safe to say that their work reflects the composer's intentions. The album is filled out with works by Arvo Pärt (the protean Fratres), Giovanni Sollima, and Ludovico Einaudi, whose Divenire also features the violin-cello combination. Horner can hold his own with any of them, and listeners who imagine sun-drenched meadows while listening to Pas de Deux will have a very good time with it.

-- James Manheim, AllMusic

More reviews:


James Horner (August 14, 1953 – June 22, 2015) was an American composer, conductor and orchestrator of film scores. Horner composed for over 100 films, won two Academy Awards, two Golden Globes, three Satellite Awards, and three Saturn Awards, and was nominated for three British Academy Film Awards. He was known for the integration of choral and electronic elements, and for his frequent use of motifs associated with Celtic music. Horner's 'Pas de Deux' was commissioned to mark 175th season of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.


Mari Samuelsen (born December 21, 1984) and her brother Håkon Samuelsen (born August 7, 1981) are Norwegian classical violinist and cellist. Mari Samuelsen was a student of Arve Tellefsen, Stephan Barratt-Due and Zakhar Bron, and plays a Guadagnini fiolin from 1773. Håkon Samuelsen was a student of Truls Mørk, Bjørn Solum, Natalia Shakovskaya, Frans Helmerson and Thomas Demenga, and plays a Francesco Ruggieri cello from 1687.


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