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Beethoven: Complete Sonatas for Violin and Piano (four CD set)

Beethoven CD

Live explorations of Beethoven's ten youthful masterpieces on gorgeous period instruments. Beautifully engineered, unedited complete takes.

This recording was conceived and made possible by a long-time friend of the Frederick Piano Collection. We are deeply grateful for his support. Our anonymous benefactor suggested that we use complete, unedited takes of each movement, and we decided to take the challenge in a spirit of exploration! Live performances inevitably include both revelations and infelicities. The challenge of recording without editing shifted our priorities from technical correctness to inspiration and flow (or, as one friend put it, exuberance and reckless abandon), encouraging us to emulate Beethoven’s disdain for punctilio and his trust in the creative spirit.

You may listen to previews of all 33 tracks at

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The Sea, Darkening


Gli Spiriti Infernali, first and second movements

Music for Violin and Piano by David Loeb
This CD gathers together five lyrical and witty pieces David Loeb has written for us, including two from earlier recordings and three now released for the first time. The composer is a good friend, neighbor, and former teacher of ours. He writes: "If I have arrived at an individual style or means of expression, this has not occurred through any passionate search for originality, but rather through intensive study of whatever music seemed most interesting and moving, regardless of its period or country of origin." This recording beautifully reflects his interests (in Far Eastern and Renaissance music) and ours (in both of the above and David’s music).

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A Stroll Through Our Neighborhood

A Stroll

Mercies 1 by Elizabeth Adams


Music by Elizabeth Adams, James Blachly, Sister Élise, Kate Ettinger, Mark Ettinger, Franklin Latner, Dana Maiben, and Ishmael Wallace
This CD, which is available for free at our concerts, features music almost entirely by 113th Street composers! On it you will hear a lovely and exciting bunch of sounds from a lovely and exciting bunch of people, ranging in age from 16 to 86. The CD includes several exceptionally beautiful songs recorded live at our “What a Neighborhood!” concerts. The performers in addition to the Orfeo Duo are Mary Ellen Callahan and Beth Anne Hatton, sopranos, James Blachly, contrabass, and Elizabeth Adams, finger cymbals.

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Impressions: Music of George Enesco

Impressions CD
Enesco Sonata no. 3, last movement

Contents: Sonata Torso, Sonata no. 3 in the popular Romanian style, Impressions d'enfance, and two previously unrecorded works, the "Piece sur le nom de Faure" and "Aubade". The music is influenced by French Impressionism and saturated with Romanian gypsy music. "Having cherished Enesco’s own 1943 recording of his 3rd violin sonata with Dinu Lipatti, it is a pleasure to renew its acquaintance in a splendid modern recording by a young brother and sister duo, who have researched the oeuvre thoroughly and demonstrate, by playing everything from memory, their close rapport and complete assimilation of George Enesco’s complex idiom."

Classical Net Review, 2002

"The Orfeo Duo delivers magnificent performances of five Enesco scores, several of them never before recorded. Romanticism and modernism, gypsy fiddling and classical techniques converge in moody meanderings, full of voluptuous melodies and harmonic volatility. Violinist Vita Wallace and her brother,
pianist Ishmael Wallace, have played together since childhood, and it shows: this kind of rapport is rare indeed."

Sarah Cahill, Classics Today, 2000
Marquis Classics, 1999.

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From Ancient Times and Places: Ishmael's solo CD of music by David Loeb

David Loeb CD

Lento, poco allegro
(from Fantasias on East Asian Modes)


Ishmael is delighted to announce the release of his first solo CD, From Ancient Times and Places, made up of beautiful, evocative works by David Loeb, with whom he studied composition. David writes: "The album title reflects the fact that all four compositions draw upon musical or artistic traditions, distant both temporally and geographically. Ishmael Wallace seems a singularly appropriate choice for this collaboration; we share 'antiquarian' interests, and as a composer himself he brings compositional insights to his interpretations. Most of the pieces: Edo Revisited, The Twilight Bell, and some of the Fantasias on East Asian Modes, were composed for him. He has performed all of these pieces, some quite often."

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The Complete Sonatas for Violin and Piano by Robert Schumann.

Schumann Sonatas
Sonata no. 2, last movement
Unacorda, 2002.

The performances are daring and fresh. Vita plays without the constant vibrato that riled great 19th-century violinists like Joachim, only to become the norm in the mid-20th century. In the slow movement of the D-Minor Sonata, for instance, she plays the theme with a halting, hauntingly pale sound, instead of the usual schmaltz. She also uses portamento sliding from one note to another that went out of fashion in the 20th century frequently but tastefully. The Streicher's sweetly singing tone and noble bass strip away the aggressiveness that so often makes Schumann problematic on modern pianos. Though one might wish for more emotional vulnerability in the playing, these are performers I would pay good money to hear."

"This recording features these all too rarely heard Schumann gems played on period instruments…. In both the yearning melodies of the first sonata and the more austere, yet masterful second and third sonatas, Ms. Wallace gives sumptuous, gleaming performances…. Ishmael Wallace (a pupil of Richard Goode) plays with illuminating artistry and bracing fervor. A great recording!"

Lawrence Budmen, Coral Gables Gazette, 2004

"On this new release, the sister-brother duo of Vita Wallace and Ishmael Wallace present Robert Schumann's three sonatas for violin and piano on a gut-strung violin and a lovely 1846 piano built by the renowned Viennese firm Streicher. It's still rare to hear this repertoire played on period instruments --this claims to be the first such recording of the Sonata No.3.

Tamara Bernstein © Copyright 2003 National Post

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Photographs CD

Photographs, a new CD featuring the Orfeo Duo with Beth Anne Hatton, the Brentano Quartet, Tom Sauer and others.

We are very happy this new collection of pieces by our friend Eric Qin (1967-1993) is now available. Those of you who know our recording of his "Music in Indigo" on "So Various, So Beautiful, So New" may be surprised by the poignant "Poems from the Japanese" which Vita plays with soprano Beth Anne Hatton on this CD. The recording also includes the track "abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz," played and sung by Ishmael and Beth, in which Eric completely rethought what vocal music could be like.

Tzadik, 2002. Available at under the Composer Series, #7081

Sonatas by Bruno Walter and Hans Pfitzner

Bruno Walter sonatas CD

This CD contains the world premiere recording of the Bruno Walter Sonata and the first recording on CD of the Pfitzner.

"...sister and brother partnership Vita and Ishmael Wallace have seized upon two charming yet rarely heard violin sonatas, both artful pieces of late Romanticism. The sonatas are undoubtedly buoyed up by the excellent performances they receive. Violinist Vita Wallace is adept at contrasting expressive opulence with a bleaker, more wistful tone, while Ishmael Wallace achieves well-crafted and transparent textures, and the eminent sensitivity of both players underlines the subtleties of these enjoyable chamber works." BBC Music Magazine, 1998

"The Orfeo Duo is a young brother and sister duo. They understand this music well, and the violin sound is just beautiful." Record Geijutsu, Japan, 1998

"The enlightening and gracefully written program annotations [by Erik Ryding] point out that some of Bruno Walter's songs have been recorded before. Still most music lovers probably didn't know this great conductor composed at all. I had never heard any of his music until now. It is fascinating. The performance [is] impassioned and deeply involving....This is a strangely moving performance of a strangely captivating piece." American Record Guide, 1998

Sonatas by Bruno Walter and Hans Pfitzner. VAI Audio, VAIA 1155, 1998. (search for Walter) code 1155 Chamber Music, February 2001

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