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Sounds of America Gramophone’s guide to the classical scene in the US and Canada

Focus Igudesman and Joo – page I » The Scene Musical highlights – page IV » Recording reviews – page IX

I a W e s e l y

J u l

:. p h o T o g R a p h y aleksey Igudesman (left) and Hyung-ki Joo have been striking musical and comedy sparks off each other since they met at the Menuhin school when they were 12

rip-roArinG lAUGhS with monty mozArt musical comedy is easy to get wrong but violin-piano duo igudesman and Joo seem to be landing on the right side of the funny/unfunny divide. this year they have their sights set on a US tour – but have they got what it takes? Jeremy Nicholas finds out their idols are Victor Borge, Dudley Moore, PDQ Bach, Monty Python – and Mozart. They’ve been touring their show A Little Nightmare Music since 2004. And when I was first introduced to Igudesman and Joo via the web (years before YouTube), it was through footage of a clever routine involving blocks of wood and Rachmaninov’s C sharp minor Prelude. Very slick. Very funny.

Then there was a 2006 DVD of their full show shot in the Musikverein in Vienna. This was more hit-and-miss. Aleksey Igudesman was clearly a whiz on the violin, Hyung-ki Joo obviously knew his way around the piano. It was different, it was amusing – but some sketches went on too long, others had no focus, and others still were simply not terribly good. They sorely needed someone to pull the show into shape and raise it above the level of a student review. The biggest pluses were: a) the show was largely visual and so could be taken to any country in the world; b) Igudesman and Joo were born performers with bags of charm; and c) like all great double acts, they were chalk and cheese.

Fast forward to March 2012 and the Cadogan Hall, the venue for their London debut. Normally I run a mile from anything described as ‘madcap’ or linked to Monty Python (‘Madcap Musical Virtuosi’… ‘Mozart hijacked by Monty Python’ says the press release). Normally it guarantees tolerant smiles and raised eyebrows. Not these two. Six years and 28 million hits on YouTube later, boy, have they come on.


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