Igudesman and Joo

We caught up with Igudesman and Joo‘s latest tour, ‘And now Mozart’, in Vienna.  Alek­sey Igudes­man (violin) and Hyung-ki (hunky by name…) Joo (piano) met at the Yehudi Menuhin school as children. There they discovered the wonders of Dudley Moore (and, from one or two things during the evening, I suspect they found Fascinating Aida, too).  They also discovered that they had the perfect combination of surreality and satire to have lots of fun with music.

In case anyone does read this, I won’t say how the evening began. But it was very funny, and it was a beautiful rendition of the Franck sonata. Their satnav Bach was lovely: Igudesman:  ‘I can’t remember how to play this piece’; Joo:  ‘use your phone’;  ‘start in E major; in eight bars, turn into A major; string crossing coming up,’ etc.  Delightful, too, was the ‘piece police’ – Joo playing Chopin until had up for speeding, and then made to play in the style of myriad composers (including Glass, Reich and Adams – all the same!). And he hardly worked up a sweat.  Igudesman’s bow antics had a similar mix of virtuosity and energy. Their ‘all rock lyrics end in “e”‘ was superb. Almost the best thing of the lot, though, was the encore – ‘I will survive’ in the style of Mozart (and then, ingeniously, Pachelbel).

Because they’re such great musicians, if some jokes wear a little thin (their Chinese composer, Song Too Long, was a bit too long), you can just listen to the music. Mainly, though, their sketches are very engaging, and you get the simultaneous feeling of rib-ache and jaw-drop.  They also showed great taste in (like FA) having a straight piece halfway through act II.  This was a Bach sonata; when it started, we wondered, slightly with dread, what they’d do to it:  all they did was to play it immaculately (and, because we didn’t know what to expect, we listened with great concentration all the way through – genius).

This duo is amazing, and should be on your must-see list.


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