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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    



Music for Two Pianos and Orchestra
Francis POULENC (1889-1963)

Concerto in D minor for two pianos and orchestra (1932) [19.05]
Nikolai Tikhonovich BEREZOWSKY (1900-1953)

Fantasie for two pianos and orchestra (1931) [10.53]
Paul CRESTON (1906-1985)

Concerto for two pianos and orchestra (1951) [23.44]
Joshua Pierce (piano)
Dorothy Jonas (piano)
National Symphony Orchestra of Polish Radio and Television/David Amos
Rec. Concert Hall, Polish Radio, Katowice, Poland. No date given
KLEOS CLASSICS KL 5121 [53.42]



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In prospect this made a fascinating collection. Having heard the disc I am not sure it works as a play-through recital. There is something a unremittingly insistent about the results produced by these composers when faced with the challenge of writing a work for two pianos and orchestra.

The Poulenc is the best known of the concertos. It wears its brightness well. The sound is brilliant but not particularly rich. The ricocheting dialogue of the outer movements is unrelieved. This is not top drawer Poulenc although the middle movement is very close to the composer’s best with an effect similar to the reflective reveries of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 24.

The Berezowsky Fantasie resembles Prokofiev in its shatter-bright energy although it is a bit anonymous overall. I found it difficult get a handle on this work; not that the language is obtuse (nor is it for any of the works on this disc). It certainly is not short in the brilliance department. Berezowsky was born in St Petersburg, emigrated to the USA in 1922, played violin with the New York SO and then with the Coolidge Quartet. 1931 was also the year of Berezowsky’s first symphony (there were to be four between 1931 and 1943) and his only violin concerto.

The Creston is excellent. A bit of an unrelenting ‘thrash’ (and this is not a criticism of the soloists) in the outer movements but the central section is one of Creston's finest inspirations. The material can stand happily in the company of the Second and Third Symphonies.

The disc is particularly valuable to explorers of the repertoire but compelling for the central movements of both the Poulenc and the Creston. We are not over-blessed with Creston recordings so those who have discovered his orchestral music through the Naxos, Koch and Delos labels will naturally want to seek this out. They may however have wished for an all-Creston disc rather than a recital mixed with other voices.

Delightful work from everyone and especially for the swashbuckling and sensitive Jonas and Pierce.

Rob Barnett



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