This is one for those of you who like Last Night of the Proms, not to sing along to the traditional/jingoistic lyrics (delete as applicable) but because you like to turn the stereogram up loud and listen to cracking tunes to which you can hum along.
The sleeve notes explain that before the invention of the radio, the only way to hear music was to play it yourself or to listen to other people. In the mid-19th century, composers arranged their symphonies, operas and string quartets for two people to play together while sitting at one piano – it was a good earner for composers, who sold the sheet music. This produced a large market for music for piano four-hands, the aim of which was to entertain the players and their audience.
This album is an updated version of that: it’s just there to be played. Some of you will know some of the tunes, some of you all. The four-handed playing gives it the energy that a 50% reduction in hands to a lone collection of digits would struggle to do. There’s also not a single challenging second.
We confess to not being familiar with the slower opening pieces, Liszt’s Two Scenes from Lenau’s Faust, but recognition kicked in with Dvorák’s Slavonic Dances, and the first rousing hum-along with an energetic version of Charles Gounod’s Love Duet from Faust – the Waltz from Faust also appears – and Benjamin Godard’s Berceuse from Jocelyn. Darius Milhaud’s Le Boeuf Sur le Toit closes proceedings in carnival style. At just over an hour the CD doesn’t outstays its welcome, either.
This is out on Divine Art, DDA 25208.
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