A New Breed of Classical: duoW

Upon meeting the girls of duoW, it was quickly apparent that they weren’t your typical classical musicians—they come across relatable to the non-laymen speak, nonchalantly sophisticated, and bluntly real. Despite being relatively new to the recording scene, they are clearly very keen on voicing their tunnel vision on the state of classical music.

Oddly perky and opinionated about classical music, cellist Meta Weiss and violinist Arianna Warsaw-Fan have been together long enough to finish each other’s sentences. Meeting over 16 years ago in boarding school, Weiss and Warsaw-Fan’s friendship blossomed with an appreciation for each other’s performance style on a personal level before evolving into a synergistic union. After years of cultivating their individual techniques and understanding each other’s sound, they formed duoW and the release of their debut album Entendre on audiophile label Sono Luminus. Entendre, a hodgepodge of repertoire, showcases the duo’s desire to play whatever they want in their own manner. Though accessible music choices, their taste is still weighty enough for staunch classical listeners.

duo_w_sitting

Meta Weiss and Arianna Warsaw-Fan

When questioned on their choice of repertoire, Warsaw-Fan explains “we just picked pieces we loved to play. We wanted to choose a wide variety to show the capability of the ensemble.”

“Normally when you see a violin cello album, you see the typical Kodaly and Ravel and that’s usually it. There’s a lot more music out there that people don’t ever hear. It’s not the kind of album you put on at a dinner party where the moods work together, but that’s what we wanted for our debut. We wanted to show our range. The Kodaly and Ravel are two of the staples in the violin and cello repertoire, but they are not necessarily the most accessible works. This album is an example of what we want to do with our programming – to play the pieces that are respected but also to play repertoire that everyone can relate to. No one can say that they don’t know “Stars and Stripes.”  It’s a first step to bring new audiences in. It’s hilarious to take something you usually hear in parades but play it in a style that can be taken seriously.”

In ways, Entendre is so wildly arranged, yet so masterfully played that you can’t help but appreciate the sporadic craftiness of the record and the duo themselves. Weiss adds “Entendre brings together reflections of a certain period of time during each composer’s time. It’s a mini time capsule that we can use to introduce audiences to
classical music and to ourselves.”

Entendre is only but a first achievement in the careers of this exciting duo and even more so remarkable with the little amount of time they’ve been together in the last year. With Warsaw-Fan recently moving to Berlin and Weiss based in New York, the duo feels nary the trouble of the distance between them and losing chemistry. Warsaw-Fan comfortably explains, “We met during formative years and so we get each other a lot better. We’re both open to playing different styles but we developed in a similar way so it makes playing together so much easier.”

For Weiss, even though their time together is limited, she states, “there’s little discussion between us, we say what we say through the music.”

Even with a stellar debut release and a quickly budding audience, duoW has both the advantage and obstacle of being known to push the visual medium for classical music. Their fashionable 2011 music video performing The Handel-Halvorsen Passacaglia is what put the girls on the map in the non-classical world, but has also given them an edge-appeal to non-genre centric listeners with classical tastes.

The duo continues to push the presentation of their music and the classical music performance experience, which will ensure longevity in their recording careers and maintain artistic credibility. “We are adamant about not dumbing-down the music…we don’t want to make it so accessible that we don’t do justice to the music” says Weiss. “We’re not revolutionaries. We’re not trying to disturb any fans of the traditional classical music performance” Warsaw-Fan explains as she describes the duo’s goal of drawing new audiences while still catering to older ones.

Weiss and Warsaw-Fan have realized they haven’t “broken” just yet and still have a long way to go, but from a viewpoint across all new, young classical acts they have achieved leaps and bounds beyond what most are capable of. They have quickly grasped the importance of being open-minded to new techniques to expand their own audience and the genre itself. Thankfully, the girls of duoW are grounded and focused on what means most to them, as Weiss lays it perfrectly, “If every time we play and we can just reach out to just one person, then we know we did our job.”

Entendre is available now from Sono Luminus Records. duoW will be on tour in the US starting in November.

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