Vinyl find: Ani & Ida Kavafian, Mozart: Duo / Moszkowski: Suite / Sarasate: Navarra

[Ani and Ida Kavafian: Mozart / Moszkowski / Sarasate]

Sometimes, I’ll justify an impulse purchase in terms of how much I spend on a breakfast at Starbucks. A cup of tea and a bagel usually sets me back $4. A Nonesuch record I’ve never heard of selling for $1 is a steal by comparison.

From what I can tell, this album is the only one where Ani and Ida Kavafian are billed as a duo. The sisters have successful careers separately, and the Amazon search algorithms turn up other recordings where they both appear. But from appearances alone, Ani and Ida aren’t the string players’ answer to Katia and Marielle Labèque.

Nonesuch hasn’t reissued this recording on the digital services, and neither sister is listed on the label’s site. The album was released in 1986, two years into Robert Hurwitz’s tenure, and the very mainstream choice of repertoire — Mozart, Moritz Moszkowski, Pablo de Sarasate — doesn’t align with the post-modern direction Nonesuch would eventually take.

It’s too bad, because the album is quietly charming. Mozart, of course, his overly bright self. The final movement of the Moszkowski Suite in G has a distinct swing, and the sisters sound particularly singular on the various runs in the Sarasate piece.

Nonesuch had the presence of mind to issue this album on CD, so you’re not shut out if you don’t own a turntable. The cover pictured, in fact, is from the CD.


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