The Provence Festival
of La Roque d'Anthéron (Frank
Braley - piano) has already extracted
a fair measure of praise from this reviewer
) and was a Recording of the Month.
This Schubert piano-duet
recital is right up there with Braley
in terms of sheer excellence. The professionalism
of the camera-work is amazing, the clarity
of the images jaw-dropping. Ivaldi and
Pennetier are expert interpreters. In
particular, they uncover clouds underlying
ostensibly sunny musical surfaces and
this factor lends a real depth to their
The D624 Variations
is based on a very simple theme – perhaps
the pair are a little heavy at its initial
presentation. It is the darker variations
that set the tone for this recital,
the sweet, lullaby moments acting as
pure respite. Camera-work includes a
back-shot after which the camera pans
around, zooming in on the second player's
fingers. It all works well, but if you
just listen one hears a perhaps truer
devotion to Schubert. Ivaldi takes Primo
The 'Grand Rondeau',
D951 begins with the most affectionate
simplicity. Pennetier, Primo here, is
quite free, endeavouring to project
a real quasi-improvisatory feeling.
The two players bring real magic to
a work that could so easily sound rather
dour and wandering. There is a fitting
intimacy to the playing, no doubt inspired
by the venue.
Contrast is brought
by the turbulent Allegro, D947 (Pennetier
Primo again). This is a very interesting
piece indeed, its distinct unrest -
no pretence at hiding it here - providing
quite a ride. Tonally the players are
lovely, even in forte and beyond; Pennetier
has a lovely mezzo-staccato.
Finally the great F
minor Fantasia; Ivaldi is Primo here.
We see their backs for the whole of
the extended opening paragraph, a spotlight
shining like a blue moon above them.
Shading is often exquisite, sitting
alongside real Sturm-und-Drang. Counterpoint
is sturdy, leading to a reposeful close.
The players have the measure of this
work, of that there is no doubt. In
its twenty minutes there is a whole
world of emotions. Many will, I am sure,
own on audio disc the Lupu/Perahia version
(coupled with Mozart K448). This will
complement it perfectly.
Very strongly recommended,
despite the low playing time of just
over an hour.