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Recordings of the Month


From Ocean’s Floor


Conner Riddle Songs

Rodzinski Sibelius

Of Innocence and Experience


Symphonies 1, 2, 3


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Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
Concerto in G minor, Op.8 RV315; The Four Seasons: Presto: ‘Summer’ transcribed by Konstantin Vilensky [2:41]
Ernesto LECUONA (1896-1963)
Suite Andalucia: Malagueña [3:39]
Darius MILHAUD (1892-1974)
Scaramouche: Brazileira [2:30]
Dave BRUBECK (1920-2012)
Blue Rondo à la Turk [6:33]
Pablo ZIEGLER (b.1944)
Asfalto [5:23]
Manuel de FALLA (1876-1946)
El Amor brujo, transcribed by Celius Dougherty: i. Pantomima [4:15]: ii Ritual Fire Dance, [3:59]
William BALCOM (b.1938)
Recuerdo: i. Paseo [3:36]: ii Choro [3:37]
Percy GRAINGER (1882-1961)
Fantasy on George Gershwin’s ‘Porgy and Bess’ [19:17]
Witold LUTOSŁAWSKI (1913-1994)
Variations on a theme of Paganini (1941) [5:36]
Duo Granat (Tamara Granat and Daniel Propper (pianos))
rec. August 2011, Concert Hall of the Artur Rubinstein Philharmonic in Łódź
DUX 0860 [62:48]

Experience Classicsonline

This is largely a light-hearted twentieth-century two-piano recital. The only exception, in respect of the time period, is Konstantin Vilensky’s transcription of the presto (storm) movement of Summer from The Four Seasons with which the disc gets underway. This is a suitably vivacious start and introduces one in dramatic form to Tamara Granat and Daniel Propper of the Duo Granat. There have been one or two piano transcriptions of the whole of The Four Seasons of late on disc, and this one has the advantage of the sonic mass generated by the two instruments.
The piece that gives its title to the disc was composed by Ernesto Lecuona and it’s but one of the many dance or dance stylisations that pepper the programme. Flamenco is inherent in the Malagueña and in the driving, dancing animation the Duo asserts another of its selection principles, which is ‘hotness’, or the kind of galvanizing emotional state that can be generated by this two piano pairing. That’s certainly why this is followed by a similar, though somewhat less overheated opus, Milhaud’s Braziliera from Scaramouche, a sure-fire crowd pleaser. This was authentically written for the piano duo team, in this case the elite duo of Marguerite Long and Marcelle Meyer.
Rhythmic exotica is at the heart of Dave Brubeck’s Blue Rondo à la Turk where jazz impulse meets Balkan time signatures. It’s timely here to remember Brubeck’s experiments and playing with gratitude. Pablo Ziegler’s was pianist in Astor Piazzolla’s band. Regular readers will know that, for me, a little Nuevo tango goes a long way but Asfalto is a usefully combative example of the genre. Celius Dougherty has arranged two movements from Fallas’s El Amor brujo for the two piano team very effectively, whereas William Bolcom’s Recuerdos - in a useful biographical connection Bolcom was a Milhaud student - carries dedications to Gottschalk and to Nazareth. Both evoke Latin American music, and are not untouched by unease.
The longest work is Percy Grainger’s large-scale Fantasy on George Gershwin’s ‘Porgy and Bess’ which serves up the succulent melodies with great brio in this performance. Finally, and in complete contradistinction to Grainger’s extensive salute, we have Lutosławski’s Variations on a theme of Paganini written in the dark days of 1941 when he and Andrzej Panufnik were working as a piano duo in Warsaw cafés. It’s more of a harmonically elaborated transcription than a series of variations but in its spicy chromaticisms and sublimated jazz moments, it packs a sizeable punch.
Well recorded, and enthusiastically annotated, this disc will provide enjoyment and also amusement along the way.
Jonathan Woolf 

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