The history behind this disc is interesting. Joseph von Gahy was not only a lifelong friend of Schubert but also his duet partner. After the composer’s death Gahy set about transcribing several of his partner’s vocal and instrumental works for piano duet. There is no question of the authenticity of the enterprise. Gahy remained faithful to the originals, even to the extent of parts of the phrases being split between the two players. So seamless is the performance of Anthony Goldstone and Caroline Clemmow that this cannot be detected.
The disc opens with Gahy’s arrangement of the Piano Trio in B flat major. The music is sublime. Exquisite melodies pour out from a composer in full creative flow reminiscent of his Lieder writing. Does it work without the violin and cello parts? On the whole, yes, although I’m not completely convinced about the Scherzo. Goldstone and Clemmow give a masterclass in the art of duet playing. They are completely sensitive to each other’s performance and play as one. After such a stunning opening the problem is that anything else that follows is likely to be an anti-climax – and it is. The Notturno, also written for violin, cello and piano, just doesn’t work as a duet; the Sonata in A major for arpeggione – an instrument long forgotten- and piano is not the composer’s best although there is evidence of his flair for melodic writing. The only work here originally written for piano duet is the so-called “Friendship” Rondo in D major, a nice-enough piece but not in the same league as the Trio. In spite of these reservations the disc is worth buying for that performance alone.