The title ‘1828’ refers to Schubert’s final and astoundingly productive year, which brought forth the three duets and solo sonata featured on this disc. In Philippe Cassard’s hands, the declamatory dynamism of the D959 A major Sonata’s first-movement exposition takes a back seat, with an emphasis on shapely soft playing that ravishingly comes to roost throughout the movement’s development section. The pianist’s eloquent legato holds attention in the Andantino’s outer sections, yet he downplays the harrowing chromatic climax. He similarly understates the Scherzo’s explosive descending minor scales, yet his delicate, witty arpeggiation of the main theme’s leaping chords delights. While the Rondo gains assurance and momentum as it progresses, I prefer Pollini’s firmer left-hand projection in the explosive central minor episode and the intelligent architecture of his dynamics.
This CD reissues three unusual combo dates by Duke Ellington. Two of the sessions feature Ellington and his longtime musical partner Billy Strayhorn both playing piano (while assisted by either Wendell Marshall or Joe Shulman on bass and sometimes an unidentified drummer). The futuristic "Tonk" is the best-known performance but all eight numbers (which include "Cotton Tail" and "Johnny Come Lately") are quite fascinating. The remaining date has four songs that primarily serve as features for the cello of Oscar Pettiford who is accompanied by Ellington, bassist Lloyd Trotman, drummer Jo Jones and (on two tunes) the celeste of Strayhorn; "Perdido" and "Take the 'A' Train" are most memorable. Intriguing music.
This is an excellent Rachmaninoff programme, taking us from the high romance of the relatively early Suite No. 1 to the composer’s last opus numbered work, the Symphonic Dances. The Suite No. 1 is a very fine work, and this duo plays gorgeously in that sighing third movement Les larmes. The spectacular finale, Pâques rings out spectacularly, the powerful tone of the well paired pianos delivering a remarkable listening experience.
For this Alpha-Classics album of modernist music arranged for two pianos, Alexei Lubimov and Slava Poprugin play four essential works that yield some surprises in their keyboard versions. Three of the pieces are transcriptions of instrumental music, specifically Igor Stravinsky's arrangement of his Concerto in E flat major, "Dumbarton Oaks," John Cage's reduction of Erik Satie's Socrate, and Darius Milhaud's four-hand transcription of Satie's Cinéma (composed as a soundtrack for the short Dadaist film Entr'acte, used in the ballet Relâche), with Stravinsky's Concerto for two pianos solo performed as it was originally written.
How poor the piano literature for four hands would be without Schubert! This musical form is indebted to him for its most significant enrichment — ranging from the popular marches to works of virtually symphonic size. The roots of the genre sprang from different soils. Schubert's musical invention was so prolific that often the two hands of a pianist proved to be insufficient, and thus the performance of complicated counterpoint, the countless subsidiary themes and delicate harmonic details demanded two pianists and four hands, resembling the four parts of a string quartet.