Concerto I = MOZART: Two Piano Concerto in E-flat, KV 365; LISZT: Concerto Pathetique for Two Pianos, S 258; BARTOK: Concerto for Two Pianos, Percussion, and Orchestra – GrauSchumacher Piano Duo/ Franz Schindlbeck, Jan Schlichte, percussion/ German Sym. Orch. Berlin/ Ruben Gazarian – Neos Music 20901, 72:58 [Distr. by Naxos] ****:
All three of these pieces were composed for ladies— Mozart composed the Piano Concerto No. 10 in E-flat for Two Pianos in 1779 to play with his older sister Nannerl. It is the last piano concerto he wrote before leaving Salzburg for Vienna in an attempt to be on his own. The work is as sprightly and effervescent as any of his single piano concertos, and the composer was adept at making use of the additional sonorities to good effect. Originally the scoring was more modest, with only oboes, horns, and bassoons in pairs, later augmented with clarinets, trumpets, and timpani, making it all rather festal.
The beautiful and bewitchingly talented Ingeborg Starck, a young Swedish woman who grew up in St. Petersburg, came to Weimar to meet the great Franz Liszt, and allowed her to perform with him in four-hand and two-piano works. The redoing of a large-scale solo concerto emerged as the Concerto Pathetique for two pianos, the three movements focusing on mainly two distinct themes, very effectively scored.
Finally, Bartok’s own Sonata for Two Pianos and Two Percussionists was commissioned by Paul Sacher, one of three pieces that the rich Swiss patron would support from the composer. This folkloric-derived work is one of Bartok’s best, albeit somewhat thorny for many listeners. Though based on what would seem to be some very common and easily-discernible themes, Bartok’s probing intellect was in high gear when he conceived the piece, and it rapidly drifts into the realm of very pure and concise musical expression. The piece was recast in 1940 for orchestra, the piano and percussion parts remaining virtually unchanged. It was written for his second wife, Ditta Pásztory-Bartók.
This is by and large a series of fine readings of all these works, in clinical and somewhat cold sound, but nonetheless lacking nothing in terms of clarity or performance excellence. This disc provides a nice coupling of these works for those wishing to beef up their two-piano recorded repertory.
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