This new disc from Güher and Süher Pekinel offers an
interesting recital programme and is well worth considering if the
The first and most substantial work on the programme is Brahms'
Sonata for two Pianos in F Minor. This work is one of
the permutations of the composer's Piano Quartet in F
Minor. Initially composed for string quintet - in this
case, a string quartet augmented by a second cello, rather than a
second viola - Brahms was not satisfied and recast it as a sonata
two pianos, in which form it appears here. Clara Schumann
then persuaded Brahms to find a happy medium between the previous
versions and the Piano Quintet was born. It is in this
final form that the piece is best known.
Although I do prefer the version for piano and strings, this disc
almost changed my mind. The Pekinels present the work with
such bite and energy that they sweep the listener away. This
performance has considerable forward momentum. Even in the
beautiful second movement, the sisters do not wallow or lose sight
of where the melodic line is taking them. This may not be to
the taste of all listeners, some of whom may prefer this tremendous
energy to be limited to the scherzo, but it makes for an exciting
performance. Anyone who knows and loves the Piano Quintet
ought to get to know this alternative scoring, and I cannot think
of a more exciting version than this.
After the major work, the Pekinels turn in lovely performances of
some shorter pieces by Brahms. They play a selection of five
waltzes from Brahms' Op. 39 set with charm and
sensitivity. The two Hungarian Dances that follow are
dispatched with verve. I should note that the liner notes
give the two dances in the wrong order, but the Hungarian Dances
are so well known that anyone with ears will realise that No. 16
comes first and that it is No. 5 that finishes off the bracket of
works by Brahms.
This all-Brahms extravaganza concludes with something 'out of the
box'. I had never heard Saint- Saëns' Variations
on a theme of Beethoven before, but I am very glad that I have
now made its acquaintance. Based on the trio section from the
minuet in Beethoven's E Flat Sonata, Op. 31, No. 3, this is a
witty piece. The French composer very much admired Beethoven,
but this work of homage smiles more than it bows. It makes
for a delightful conclusion to a delightful disc.
The liner notes are decent and the recording balances both pianos
well. The middle range of both keyboards sounds murky for
some reason, perhaps as a function of managing the usually resonant
acoustic of The Maltings. The ear adjusts, though, and once
it does, the listening experience is most satisfying.