These are arrangements by the composers themselves. Both symphonies are very popular and one is probably a masterpiece. Composers of the time often made arrangements for piano duet of their works since this would introduce such works to a wider audience since not everyone could get to orchestral concerts.
Hearing these symphonies in this form brings out some detail and it also shows how some orchestral effects cannot be successfully reproduced on the piano such as, for example, timpani rolls. For those who are interested Anthony Goldstone, probably in one of his fascinating and eccentric waistcoats, takes the top part of the piano. Caroline Clemmow takes the bottom part. I cannot praise this duo too highly. They both have a wonderful sense of musicianship and I have enjoyed their performances over many years.
As with all Divine Art CDs I have, the sound and presentation is good. Why should you buy this disc? Let me list some of the many reasons
1. It brings out detail which may not always be clear in orchestral performances
2. It is well played
3. It is comparatively unusual.
4. It might encourage pianists to take up these arrangements and, as a result, they will receive much enjoyment from so doing and so will their audiences.
5. Both symphonies are given the most satisfactory performances which are full of life, verve and great sensitivity.
6. Performances in this form are a very valuable service to music lovers.
7. It will prove invaluable to music teachers, music colleges and seminaries in the study of these two works and symphonic works in general.
On another note this disc shows up, no doubt unintentionally, how superior the Mendelssohn is. I have no desire to put down the Dvořák although, as I say in my biography of this composer, the finale of the New World symphony is nothing more than a pot-pourri of tunes and the glorious slow movement loses something in the four hand transcription but that must not deter you from examining this disc.
Mendelssohn’s symphony is a far better work and, incidentally, it works better in the four hand version than the Dvořák. I revelled in the abundance of detail revealed in this performance and was reminded of what a truly great composer Mendelssohn is. There is a lovely and infectious tripping style in this choice playing and the atmosphere is caught to perfection. It has real charm and the performance is a real joy to listen to. One may not often use the word inspiring to describe Mendelssohn but, on the basis on this performance, the word must be used.
You should acquire this disc even if you only play it once. It is a real joy. But do not treat it as a novelty. It is too good for that. Recommended. One does not have to say more. The disc recommends itself.
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