Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

British Music for Piano Duet
Peter WARLOCK (1894 – 1930)

Capriol Suite (1926)
York BOWEN (1884 – 1961)

Suite Op.52 (1918)
Three Pieces Op.71 (1923)
William WALTON (1902 – 1983)

Façade Suite (1923, arr. Lambert)
Thea MUSGRAVE (born 1928)

Excursions (1965)
Lennox BERKELEY (1903 – 1990)

Palm Court Waltz Op.81 No.2 (1971)
Philip LANE (born 1950)

Scherzo Burlesco (1970)
Peter Lawson, Alan MacLean (piano duet)
Recorded: The Princess Hall, Cheltenham, April 1996
CAMPION RRCD 1353 [72:51]


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A few years ago, these same artists recorded a similar programme of British music for piano duet by Berners, Walton, Lambert, Rawsthorne and Lane (Albany TROY142) in which Walton was represented by his Duets for Children. This time, Walton is represented by Lambert’s expert arrangement for piano duet of the two orchestral suites drawn from Façade. I must admit that I did not know this version, but it is superbly done and works remarkably well although some may still prefer Walton’s brilliant orchestration. Anyway, in whatever version, Façade is a marvellous piece of music and the present version is not without merits.

Bowen’s Suite Op.52 and Three Pieces Op.71 (also sometimes known as Suite No.2 and recorded as such by Bruce Posner and Donald Garvelmann on Olympia OCD 680) are no newcomers to the catalogue. Both pieces display Bowen’s superb piano writing and are quite attractive. Dance, the second movement of the Suite Op.52, recalls Grainger whereas the Barcarolle of the Three Pieces Op.71 is simply superb.

Capriol Suite is another favourite, especially in its version for string orchestra. However, it seems that this version for piano duet may have preceded it, albeit briefly. Warlock also made a version for full orchestra which is, I think, too rarely heard although Vernon Handley recorded it for Chandos several years ago.

Berkeley’s Palm Court Waltz was originally written for orchestra, but the present version has often been performed in recitals and available in commercial recordings (Hyperion … and it was also featured in the British Music Society’s very first CD entirely devoted to Berkeley’s piano music). It is a short delightful, mildly ironic parody to be enjoyed for its own sake, but it is superbly crafted all the same.

The present selection also includes two novelties: a comparatively early work by Thea Musgrave and a quite early one by Philip Lane. Musgrave’s Excursions, composed in 1965 and including an easier part so that the piece may be played by teacher and pupil, is more straightforward than usual, i.e. by Musgrave’s standards. The music nevertheless puts considerable demands on younger players, but is quite simply delightful, full of humour and vitality. Philip Lane’s Scherzo Burlesco was composed at about the same time as his delightful Badinages (on Albany TROY142) as a short pièce d’occasion described by the composer as "a musical ‘mad dash’ to be played in a manner reminiscent of swatting away a fly". This says much for the unbuttoned, playful and extrovert nature of the music. It should be included as an encore in any piano duet recital.

Curiously enough, this most enjoyable disc went unnoticed at the time of its release (2000). I must admit that I was not aware of its existence. My suggestion is that you rush to get it, sit down and enjoy this attractive programme superbly played and well recorded. No big masterpieces, maybe, but immense musical pleasure from first to last.

Hubert Culot

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