POULENC: Concerto in D minor for Two Pianos (1932); NIKOLAI BEREZOWSKY: Fantasie for Two Pianos (1931); PAUL CRESTON: Concerto for Two Pianos (1951) – Joshua Pierce & Dorothy Jonas/Nat. Sym. of Polish Radio-TV/ David Amos – Kleos Classics

by | Aug 17, 2006 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

Music for Two Piano and Orchestra = POULENC: Concerto in D minor for Two Pianos and orchestra (1932); NIKOLAI BEREZOWSKY: Fantasie for Two Pianos and Orchestra (1931); PAUL CRESTON: Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra (1951) – Joshua Pierce & Dorothy Jonas, duo-pianists/ National Symphony orchestra of Polish Radio & TV/ David Amos – Kleos Classics KL 5121, 53:42 ****:

A fortunate combination here: a standard for two pianos coupled with two other works receiving their world premiere recordings. The extensive liner notes point out that though two-keyboard concertos were popular in the Baroque period they sort of died out in the Romantic period to be replaced by virtuoso single-piano concertos which used all the resources of both the piano and the orchestra to make a grand impression. in the 20th century two-piano began to come back, and this disc brings us three fine examples.

Poulenc’s witty work is full of many different influences: Mozart, the concerto grosso, jazz, silent film music, French music hall music, and even Balinese gamelan.  Berezowsky is perhaps best known as Aaron Copland’s teacher.  He had come from the early Soviet Union – first to Vienna and then to New York to teach at Juilliard. His short Fantasie has a strong Russian flavor and partakes of the concerto grosso style. Paul Creston, who lived until 1985, was essentially self-taught and usually wrote in a Neoclassical style – sometimes fairly dissonant but always with a distinctive rhythmic structure.  His Two-Piano Concerto is both tuneful and rhythmic, with a lengthy Andante center movement of some lyricism. The short finale is a traditional Tarantella, coming from the Italian background of the composer.

The playing of all concerned is excellent and the skilled sound and balance brings these delightful two-piano works to the listener in great style. If you have trouble finding, try: www.heliconrecords.com

 – John Sunier

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