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Carl CZERNY (1791-1857)
Three Sonatas for Piano Four Hands

Sonata Militaire et Brillante, Op. 11 (1826) [23:02];. Sonata Sentimentale, Op. 120 (1826) [26:02]; Sonata Pastorale, Op. 121 (1826) [19:26]
Diane Andersen, Daniel Blumenthal (piano, four hands).
rec. No dates or locations given. DDD
TALENT DOM 2910 62 [70:38]

There is much to delight the listener here. Andersen and Blumenthal are a real chamber-music duo, reacting to each other with quicksilver reflexes. Their task of introducing the public to these works is clearly one they have taken seriously. These performances reflect not only careful preparation but also enthusiasm.

What we have here are first recordings; so the jewel case tells us. Too often known for his etudes - his output was huge - Czerny deserves at least some sort of reappraisal. If none of the works on this disc are life-changing, all three reveal a composer of imagination and wit. No great emotional depths are explored, but there are some remarkably affecting unexpected harmonic movements.

Each sonata has its own character, reflected in the works’ subtitles. First up is the bracing ‘Sonata Militaire et Brillante’ with its crisply played dotted rhythms. Andersen is an excellent ‘Primo’ player who can make the treble glisten most appealingly. The slow movement (an Andantino) is an absolute delight. No demands on one’s listening abilities here; this is the fruit of the pen of a composer who knows how to write with disarming simplicity. The music-box elements of the finale just add to the charm.

The first movement of the ‘Sonata Sentimentale’ is marked, ‘Allegro moderato e espressivo’ and the Andersen/Blumenthal duo hits the nail on the head with its mildly expressive amble through the score. The term ‘Adagio’ - used for the slow movement - normally implies a statement of some depth, but not here. There is a Schubertian disturbance at one point, though.

The delicate Adagio of the ‘Sonata Pastorale’ does actually explore some significant emotions, and there are some storms to the generally laid-back first movement. The nice, open intervals of the finale (‘à la chasse’) are very appealing – interestingly, the very close is almost cacophonous here!

Grand fun, then. Whether all three sonatas in a row is a good idea depends on how much light-hearted happiness you can take in one sitting, but this disc is certainly worth dipping into.

The booklet notes are badly translated though and, while we get to know the names of Producer and Engineer, we are left in the dark as to actually when and where these recordings took place.

Colin Clarke


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