Music for a Glass Bead Game

J.S. Bach: Two-Part Inventions 1, 3, 6, 7, 9, 10, 13. Kodály: Duo for Violin & Cello. Giordani: Duetto II. Martinu: Duo for Violin & Cello. Handel: Passacaglia
Arturo Delmoni, violin; Nathaniel Rosen, cello
John Marks Records JMR 15 (CD). John Marks, prod.; Jerry Bruck, eng. DDD. TT: 62:34

This is a stupendous recording of violin and cello in a good-sized hall—possibly the most luscious recording of acoustic music I've heard in several years.

The disc's title refers to Herman Hesse's last novel; the glass bead game represents a fusion of the arts as represented by music, and sciences as personified by mathematics. All the works on this disc present a form of game as well—the give and take of chamber music for two, the passing back and forth of theme and variation.

Rosen and Delmoni perform brilliantly. Their mastery over their instruments is never in doubt, but what is most impressive is the passion they bring to these works. There is not a single unfelt note on the disc.

The sound is beautifully clear. Engineer Jerry Bruck has concentrated on the direct sound of the instruments, but has not neglected the ways in which the hall supports their tones. In this program material, with these players, it is a strategy that has paid off in spades. Delmoni's playing is full of body, with a silvery gleam that offers a perfect contrast to Rosen's warm, golden burble. The third movement of the Kodály Duo provides some heart-stoppingly beautiful moments, first in a pizzicato passage that places both players palpably within Purchase College's Recital Hall, then in the impassioned finale, where both men pull out all the stops (ahem) to romp joyously to the close.

I could go on—Music for a Glass Bead Game is filled with delightful music-making—but I'm not sure I'd get any closer to what makes this one so special. If you care about music and want to hear how well science can serve art, you need to listen to this 'un.—Wes Phillips

This disc can now be purchased directly from the Stereophile Recordings page.