“An Amadeus Affair” – BUSONI: Duettino concertante. MOZART: Sonata For Two Pianos K. 448. LISZT Reminiscences de Don Juan. MOZART: (arr. Anderson & Roe) “Soave sia il vento”; Grand Scherzo; Ragtime alla Turca – Greg Anderson & Elizabeth Joy Roe, duo-pianos – Steinway & Sons 30022 , 66:15 (2/25/14] [Distr. by Naxos] ***(*):
A totally delightful combination of bubbly Mozart brilliantly adapted by a group known under the vaudevillian-sounding name of Anderson & Roe Piano Duo. And in fact, some of the music would have played well on the circuit in the day and as I can personally still does so to audiences of similar tastes around the globe.
The title, of course, and even more the cover do their most to discourage sales, in my opinion, but hearing tracks 1, 2 and 10 ought to seal the deal for most people. In particular, Ferruccio Busoni’s oddly-named Duettino concertante, a wonderfully fanciful adaptation of the last movement of Mozart’s 19th Piano Concerto K. 459 which may well be an improvement on the original; the great Busoni, the greatest pianist of his age some say as well as the greatest composer too, should have done this for another 10 Mozart piano concerto movements. Everything Busoni has imagined, from the innocence at the beginning through to the incredible climax of his original cadenza and then the scampering around and last kisses in bed, is beautifully realized by Anderson & Roe; it will change the lives of all who hear it, both for the music and the way it is played.
The same is true of two adaptations Anderson & Roe themselves have made from two Mozart operas: an unforgettable moment of heartbroken, bittersweet, eternal love from Cosí fan tutte, and an utterly poignant C-minor fugue from The Magic Flute that crystallizes the music’s ethereal beauty and also the composer’s profound love of Bach.
The Duo’s Sonata for Two Pianos K. 448 (in the dowdy original) is similarly enchanting, but their other Mozart adaptation – a Suite of four movements called Grand Scherzo – chugs pleasantly along but with very few really wonderful moments and not much purpose. By contrast, Liszt’s Reminiscences de Don Juan are as risible as always, and even an enthusiastic final Anderson & Roe specialty (they do sell the music on their website, after all), is titled Ragtime alla Turca as if it existed in some sort of time warp back half a century.
The stunning purity of the sound, another gem from SUNY Purchase’ Performing Arts Center Concert Hall, is a trademark of the best work of producer Steven Epstein who used the Sequoia Digital Audio Workstation to reveal layers of parallel and divergent lines and prismatic colors. Most readers of the dumbed-down booklet-notes, however, might prefer less words and more pictures. And indeed Anderson & Roe are planning to release a new Mozart music video in the near future. [Their music videos are certainly not anything like the usual classical music videos…Ed.]