Violinist Thomas Zehetmair whose recent Paganini recording from St. Gerold met with overwhelming critical acclaim last year and violist Ruth Killius have shared many years as musical collaborators in the Zehetmair quartet. The couple’s spectacular duo performance at last autumn’s ECM festival in Mannheim raised the expectactions for their new programme, a carefully composed anthology of contemporary pieces for violin and viola. Next to Bohuslav Martinů’s virtuosic and accessible “Madrigals”, written in 1946 in American exile, the central piece here is “Drei Skizzen” by Heinz Holliger, a triptychon with the instruments tuned in the scordatura of Mozart’s fomous “Sinfonia concertante” for violin, viola and orchestra. It was commissioned by the duo as an encore piece for their frequent renderings of Mozart’s masterworks on the concert platform. Its first movement “Pirouetts harmoniques” is entirely based on shimmering harmonics, whereas the second one is an exuberant perpetuum mobile. The cycle concludes with a six-part chorale that requires both string players to hum an extra voice. This idea, which is realised by the duo to a most stunning effect effect, was itself inspired by Giancinto Scelsi’s solo piece “Manto” for a “singing viola player”. The programme is complemented by compositions by Nikos Skalkottas, Béla Bartók and short pieces by Rainer Killius and Johannes Nied.