~ Duo Agineko offer ‘a wonderful example of what a duo recital can achieve’ ~
Duo Agineko is an internationally outstanding viola-piano duo, established in Antwerp in 2011 by Belgian violist Sander Geerts (principal viola of Antwerp Symphony Orchestra) and Japanese pianist Yasuko Takahashi (member of the Danish soloists association ‘’Solistforeningen’’).
After appearing as an official duo, they immediately won several international chamber music prizes, such as
Grand prix at the international competition of young performers in Madeira, Portugal on March 2011
Finalists for the chamber music section of the 18th International J. Brahms Competition in Pörtschach, Austria on September 2011
The 1st Absolute Prize and the Special Prize 'Chamber Music' at the 22nd Young Musician International Competition for Chamber Music in Barletta, Italy on April 2012
Special Prize for the chamber music section of the 19th International J. Brahms Competition in Pörtschach, Austria on September 2012
Sander’s sweet and sensual viola sound and Yasuko’s colourful and supportive partnership at the piano are making this duo unique. The atmosphere they create is heartwarming. Their virtuosity, their richness in colour, and their deep capacity to empathize with composers are drawing the audience into their story.
They released their debut CD ‘Along my Tale’ in 2012, and their 2nd CD ‘A tribute to Ysaÿe’ is released on January 2016, as well as the re-mastered version of their debut CD as 'Sonatas', both by Etcetera Records. Thereafter both CD's are gaining great reputations, such as 'Sonatas' appreciated highly by British classical music magazine Gramophone, and 'A Tribute to Ysaÿe' chosen as CD best 10 by Belgian classical music radio station Klara.
Richard Bratby – November 2016
“It's a relief after that to turn to the odd one out in this collection, a CD of viola sonatas performed by Duo Agineko: viola player Sander Geerts and pianist Yasuko Takahashi.
Once again, this is a recital that doubles as a self-portrait. The recording is dedicated to Takahashi's mother, who died in 2011, and everything from the cover artwork to Takahashi's specially written booklet-note is shaped by that personal narrative.
The effect is touching, making emotional sense of the musical journey from Vieuxtemps’s icing-sugar Romanticism to the desolation of Shostakovich's late Sonata, with Hindemith's Viola Sonata Op 11 No 4 serving as a surprisingly passionate bridge between the two.
These players are unmistakably on the same page, and what lingers here isn't so much their individual qualities - Geerts's mellow tone and tiny, expressive portamentos or the endlessly nuanced shades of black that Takahashi finds in Shostakovich's writing for the left hand - as the way they respond to each other, echoing phrasings, pushing each other forwards and (or so it sounds, anyway) exchanging quick smiles of acknowledgement.
A lovely disc, and a wonderful example of what a duo recital can achieve: two players and three composers becoming so much more than the sum of their parts.”