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Piano Duets Fantasy D940; Variations D813; Grand Duo D812
Sviatoslav Richter/Benjamin Britten (piano)
Decca 466 822-2 [75.27]
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A gem quarried from the BBC recordings at the Aldeburgh Festivals of 1964/65 at the Aldeburgh Parish Church (Variations) and Jubilee Hall (Fantasy & Duo). Not a lot needs to be said. The intimate venues were conducive to superb 'domestic' music making, ideally exemplified by the coming together of these great musicians year after year. Their rapport is so close that Marion Thorpe (who used to play this music at home with 'Ben' in her younger days) notes the perfect blend and balance of the four hands and the subtle pedalling. She says that it is not known who played Primo or Secondo, but I think there must be some readers with long memories who could enlighten us as to their usual practise? Did they swap places? Most important of all, who took charge of the sustaining pedal?

My guess is that the information would be forthcoming from the BBC Transcription Service, which took charge of the Aldeburgh Festival recordings under the supervision of John W Bower? Unless the tapes have been tampered with, they would probably reveal the answers in the BBC announcers' remarks between items.

This selection is perfect. The sublime Fantasy, which starts with a reminder for Mozartians of Barbarina's search for the lost pin, then the lesser known set of eight Variations from 1825. Finally the huge Duo, a symphony manqué, makes for an exhilarating finish to this splendid recital, splendidly remastered and documented.


Peter Grahame Woolf




Peter Grahame Woolf

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