There are several good reasons to buy this fascinating programme. First, to hear examples of the work of Sergei Taneyev, Tchaikovsky’s composition student, the soloist in the Moscow premiere of his master’s First Piano Concerto, a trusted friend and critic; and of the gifted Nadezhda Purgold, aka Mrs Rimsky-Korsakov , commended by Tchaikovsky to his publishers for her expert transcriptions. Second, to admire the ingenuity of the piano reductions from symphonic score to four-hands-one-piano. Think again if this prompts notions of nice little piano duets to amuse audiences of the pre-gramophone era. Both transcribers divide the material between the four hands so skilfully that, if you shut off your aural recall of the originals, it is easy to be convinced that both symphony and overture must have had their origins in this form. Indeed, many thematic and contrapuntal devices reveal themselves more clearly than in their familiar orchestral garb.
The selection of 16 Russian folksongs from the 50 duets commissioned from Tchaikovsky himself in 1868 provide an agreeable “now where have I heard that before” conclusion to the disc. The impeccable precision, tonal allure and stylish panache of Goldstone and Clemmow’s playing is sheer pleasure, and they are handsomely recorded.