Musical Opinion

Transcriptions have always had a place in the world of music. Before the advent of recording great players, especially Franz Liszt, would champion the music of other composers by making piano transcriptions of their major orchestral works. Today, these are taken off the shelf and put on CD to be treated as oddments rather than the essential tools of communication they were originally intended to be, when virtuosi had the lure of pop stars. Indeed, publishers of the time expected their composers to provide such transcriptions to help sales when virtually every middle class family had an upright piano and sometimes more than one player capable of sight-reading at a reasonable level.

When Anthony Goldstone and his wife Caroline Clemmow unearthed a four-hand version of Schubert’s Trout Quintet [written] by Joseph Czerny in 1829, soon after Schubert’s death, and found it playable, they researched other Schubert pieces and put together this fascinating 10 track disc, beautifully recorded and thoroughly recommended. Being deceased Schubert could hardly authorise any of them! Having already devoted seven CDs to Schubert’s keyboard music for four hands they would have relished these new pieces, especially when the Trout arrangement proved so well redesigned for the medium. The performance is a joy to hear and I am certain that Schubert would have approved.

I really enjoyed the 2-piano arrangement of Schubert’s E-flat major Impromptu by Ede Poldini and Prokofiev’s delightful concoction of Waltzes, apparently made about 1920, which more that hints at the Death and the Maiden string quartet. Josef Hüttenbrenner’s duet arrangement of the Rosamunde overture failed to move me but Anthony Goldstone has made a good job of turning the D 618a sketches into an enjoyable Polonaise. They end with Hugo Ulrich’s 19th-century duet version of the wonderful Adagio from the great C major String Quintet. Certainly not to be ignored in this context and with good moments, though I hated the last minute, with all too piquant broken chords where pizzicato strings should make our hearts throb. Nevertheless, another joint triumph for the Divine Art’s unique piano duo.

—Denby Richards