Opus Klassiek

Here we have no less than seven CDs with pieces for piano-four-hands by Franz Schubert (he wrote – probably for practical reasons – not for two pianos). As far as I can see, the set is complete. This is confirmed by its title: “The Complete Original Piano Duets” (not to be confused with another edition: ‘The Unauthorized Piano Duets’). The layout is chosen so that it forms a concert program of the piano music. In other words these pieces on CD  are also performed in concert practice. That means, for example, that a contiguous set of six marches (as originally published) is spread over these seven CDs. There is nothing wrong with that. On the contrary, it is clear that optimum contrast is sought, and that is also brought out in full. The fact that Robert Schumann’s eight Polonises are included in this set is also interesting: Schumann wrote them in August and September 1828, with Schubert (D. 599) as an inspirational example. That Schubert died shortly thereafter, on November 18th, does not relate to this. It is interesting to hear how much 18-year-old Schumann already runs his own creative course.

The duo Goldstone & Clemmow is of course not the only one that has been busy with Schubert’s four-handed piano works. I would like to remind you of some illustrious names: Christoph Eschenbach and Justus Franz, Patrick and Taeko Crommelynck, Jenö Jandó and Zsuzsa Kollár, and of course, recently, Belgian couple Jan Vermeulen and Veerle Peters. While of the famous Fantasy in f, D 940, the number of recordings is hardly ever counted.

It’s quite a bit of music – 8 hours and 20 minutes of music, some masterpieces and some inspired household works. The critics have described Goldstone and Clemmow as a ‘dazzling husband and wife team’,’ a British institution in the best sense of the word’, and they were the UK’s pre-eminent two-piano team. The duo (Anthony Goldstone and Caroline Clemmow), who formed their duo In 1984 and married in 1989, now has about 40 CDs in their name and their standard is consistently out of this world. I do not think there is an integral recording of these pieces that is better than this (Vermeulen and Peeters play this repertoire, unlike Goldstone and Clemmow,  exclusively on fortepiano). Or else we might say: no better, but different. Of course! Here we hear perfectly produced sparkle and energy, but also poetry and intimacy.

These recordings originally sat on the [defunct] Olympia label over the years to great acclaim until now the Divine Art Recordings Group has taken over. It all runs like a clock, partly thanks to the wonderfully tuned and maintained Grotrian-Steinweg concert piano. In the attached detailed documentation, both pianists also show that they are excellent stylists in this area, and very well-informed in the field of history.

—Aart van der Wal