Showcase

I must alert you to a most exciting disc, designed to please lovers of Tchaikovsky, keyboard music and beautiful music in general. Pianists Anthony Goldstone and Caroline Clemmow have taken two major orchestral pieces by Tchaikovsky in transcriptions for “four hands at one piano” and recorded them on the Divine Art label (25020). The program notes begin with a quotation of Benjamin Britten that a transcription “doesn’t affect the original work – it just makes a new one”.

So here we have the complete Symphony No. 4 and the Romeo and Juliet Overture-Fantasia in transcriptions for piano duo and as a bonus 16 from the composer’s Fifty Russian Folk Songs , written originally for piano duo. I try to collect all I can of piano transcriptions because I find it brings me so much closer to the structure of the music, a structure that is sometimes not appreciated as one revels in the magnificent orchestration. I find that I play the piano versions of the nine Beethoven symphonies more than I do the orchestral ones, and I certainly prefer the original piano version of Gershwin’s An American in Paris to the better-known version with an orchestration not the composer’s.

For the record, the transcriber of the Symphony No.4 is Sergei Taneyev and of the Romeo Nadezhda Purgold (Mrs Rimsky-Korsakov). Our pianists here, of course, make both their own. Fabulous playing and a definite “grabbit”.

—Frank Behrens