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This is the sixth in a series of recordings of Offenbach’s large (but generally unknown, even to cellists) repertoire of duets for two cellos. Classified as ‘Très difficiles’, the Op 54 set contains the most challenging writing of all six sets, with much use of double and triple stopping over all positions. One of the major issues is the extremely high tessitura, beautifully dealt with here.

Offenbach’s melodic giftis displayed in all its glory. He writes on a large canvas: first movements are around a quarter of an hour each. The close, slightly dry acoustic is unforgiving, but the pieces are unforgettable once they get under your skin. If there is one experiment in repertoire terms for you this year, make this it. Incidentally, it is not the case that the musical quality increases along with the difficulty; the ‘Très faciles’ Op 49 set is just as delightful.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica

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