Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Music Webmaster
Len Mullenger:

British Music for Piano Duet -

Warlock, Bowen, Walton, Musgrave, Berkeley and Philip Lane 

Peter Lawson and Allan MacLean - piano duo
Campion RRCD1353


Here is nice crisp playing - a fine rapport and spot-on timing between the two pianists - of a selection of nineteen-twenty-ish favourites. Certainly 'Capriol' and 'Facade' can surely claim to be favourites, and here as fresh as ever in the piano duet arrangement which, in the Warlock notably, yields some additional harmonic piquancy. It is a safe bet that the two York Bowen Suites (the second here under its alternative title of, simply, 'Three Pieces'), if not already as widely known as they ought to be will, with their inexorable musical logic, become favourites after a couple of hearings.

The delightful cameo on the sleeve (unacknowledged but is 'Incantation' by George Barbier d1932) neatly evokes the era of the 'twenties - and if the final Musgrave/Berkeley/Lane are of more recent vintage (the 'sixties and 'seventies) nevertheless the mood is light and unpretentious enough - but with a consummate sense of style.

In the days before the CD market illuminated the unexplored recesses of music the medium of the piano duet provided access, in the drawing-room, to many orchestral masterworks whose performance was infrequent - but it also made home music-making a source of shared pleasure. It is this rare delight in partnership that comes over strongly in this disc - not only in the cheeky gestures of Walton's 'Lily O'Grady, Silly & Shady' but in the Musgrave 'Excursions', where it is not difficult to envisage the bull-nosed Morris, flappers in scarves and leather helmets in these automobile escapades, the very title evocative of day trips to the seaside, a joy now all but forgotten. There are gently humorous touches - the harmonic 'mist' that surrounds driving in the Highlands: the nemesis awaiting the drunken driver, and the insistent promptings of the 'back-seat driver' - the whole Suite beautifully crafted with economy of means.

Lennox Berkeley's pastiche also vividly recalls the days of the tea-shop Trio - pot plants, hot buttered toast and Earl Grey --a parody may be, but O! so elegant.

If one has whistled along with these delightful pieces, then now is the time to draw breath before Philip Lane's exciting final gallop rushes off the disc with what, in the 'twenties, might have been called 'great eclat'.

Colin Scott Sutherland


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