Surely there is no more entertaining or exploratory a piano
duo in the world today than Goldstone and Clemmow. Their names
are beginning to take on the ring of Vronsky & Babin, or
Smith and Sellick, or Bartlett and Robinson or other of their
elite predecessors. Except, I think, that G & C have undertaken
a recording programme that is throwing up many more first performances,
arrangements, and novelties, than ever before. And this disc
is no exception.
We have a ‘Spanish Delights’ programme Not all the composers
are Spanish, but all have plugged into the national grid of
the continent and produced music of vivid immediacy. Chabrier
leads with España. The composer played the piece to his
wife-to-be and it was probably conceived for piano. It remains
deliciously colourful, and is rendered here with sufficient
rhythmic brio to ensure that its vitality is richly conveyed.
I mentioned earlier Bartlett and Robinson and it’s their arrangement
of Granados’s Quejas ó la maja y el ruisenor – from Goyescas
– that we hear in its first digital recording. No complaints
at all about the rich melancholia conveyed in either arrangement
or performance. Lecuona’s Malagueña is heard in the arrangement
for two pianos by Grace Helen Nash, and full marks to the duo
for their rich chording and rhythmic vitality.
It’s something of a surprise to hear Rodrigo’s Adagio
from the Concierto de Aranjuez. I’ve certainly never
heard this version, which is not surprising as it is apparently
the first ever recording of the composer’s own arrangement.
As ever, whilst one’s ear misses the known version it’s rewarding
to hear a ‘bare bones’ performance that clarifies the music.
Chaminade and Saint-Saëns bring their own French high spirits
to the party: the former has a salon-carnival approach in La
Sévillane whilst Saint-Saëns unveils his dance with crisp
panache, and the two performers do so likewise. The reduction
of Falla’s Nights in the Gardens of Spain is by one A.
Bertram, and it’s a highly competent piece of work heard, once
again, in a claimed first ever recording. I like the way the
flamenco guitar is evoked in this piano duet performance of
Rimsky-Korsakov’s old pot boiler, the Capriccio espagnol.
If ever you get tired of the orchestral flourish, you might
turn your ear to this less gilded version with advantage. Unlike
the rest of the programme this is a much older recording, taped
back in 1990. And as an envoi you can listen to Tárrega’s delicious
charmer, Gran Vals. It’s a first recording too, it seems.
One word of warning: if you play it and notice a little theme
that makes you narrow your eyes and squint and say to yourself;
‘But I know that tune, what the Hell is it?’ then let me tell
you. It’s the Nokia ring tone. Who knew? How did Nokia get hold
of it? Thanks to Anthony Goldstone for pointing that out in
his highly readable notes. It saved me some minutes of agony.
As I hope you can tell, I’ve enjoyed this disc immensely. Piano
duets or reductions or originals that are better known in orchestrations
aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but when the playing and recording
are as good as this, I don’t think you could possibly complain.
Emmanuel CHABRIER (1841-1894)
España for two pianos (1883) [6:37]
Enrique GRANADOS (1867-1916)
Goyescas – No.4 Quejas ó la maja y el ruisenor (1911), for two
pianos, arr. Bartlett and Robertson [5:50]
Ernesto LECUONA (1895-1963)
Andalucia - No.6 Malagueña (1927) arr. Grace Helen Nash [3:41]
Joaquín RODRIGO (1901-1999)
Concierto de Aranjuez – Adagio (1939), for two pianos; second
piano part arr. Rodrigo [10:09]
Cécile CHAMINADE (1857-1944)
La Sévillane Op 19 [4:48]
Manuel de FALLA (1876-1946)
Nights in the Gardens of Spain (1909-16) – second piano part
arranged by A. Bertram [22:29]
Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921)
La Jota aragonese Op.64 [3:57]
Nikolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV (1844-1908)
Capriccio espagnol Op.34 for two pianos (1887) [14:23]
Francisco TÁRREGA (1852-1909)
Gran Vals for piano duet (1902) [3:11]