Classical CD Reviews

MILHAUD: Le bouef sur le toit for Four Hands; DEBUSSY: Petite Suite; FAURE: Dolly; DUREY: Two Pieces – Maurizio Moretti & Angela Oliviero, piano 4 hands – Camerata

A fine recording of some material that deserves much more.

Published on June 22, 2013

MILHAUD: Le bouef sur le toit for Four Hands; DEBUSSY: Petite Suite; FAURE: Dolly; DUREY: Two Pieces – Maurizio Moretti & Angela Oliviero, piano 4 hands – Camerata

MILHAUD: Le bouef sur le toit for Four Hands; DEBUSSY: Petite Suite; FAURE: Dolly, Op. 56; DUREY: Two Pieces – Maurizio Moretti & Angela Oliviero, piano 4 hands – Camerata CMCD-28226, 56:43 [Distr. by Albany] ****:

This is piano four hands, and not two pianos. All of the pieces here were originally for this combination with the exception of the title track, Le bouef sur le toit (The Bull on the Roof), which was done by the composer along with another version for violin and piano (originally done as a score to a Charlie Chaplin movie), and one for chamber orchestra (a large one, about 25 players, often augmented for concert performances). The piece ultimately became a surrealist ballet without any plot to speak of, though it contains a wealth of Brazilian melodies, over thirty in all, the title itself the name of a Brazilian tango. It is a rousing work in any guise and Moretti and Oliviero play it to the hilt.

The other pieces are more subdued, thanks to their impressionist lineage. The Petite Suite was composed sometime during 1886-89, and was composed for piano four hands. It has gone on to acclaim and popularity mostly because of the orchestral arrangement by Debussy’s colleague Henri Büsser in 1907, though it is still a staple of four hand recitals when they occur. Dolly is not quite as well-known, though one of its six movements, “Berceuse” is quite popular. The piece was composed for the daughter of the composer’s mistress, Hélène Bardac (1892–1985), known to her family as Dolly. She was the young daughter of the singer Emma Bardac, someone that Faure paid a lot of passionate attention to. The pieces were composed over a four-year period, and collected later. An orchestral version was also made but doesn’t seem to top the piano in the way Petite Suite does.

Finally there is the two-piece suite by composer Louis Durey (1888-1979), a largely self-taught man who was inspired to compose after hearing a work by Debussy. He was a charter member of the Les Six, though probably the least known, so it is nice to have this magnificent Two Pieces on this disc, consisting of “Snow” and “Carillons”, huge textures for the piano that show what he was capable of, and making us sad he did not pursue this medium more often.

Again, our piano duo is of sensitive and highly exploratory natures in terms of technique and color, and fully up to the challenge of these worthy and rather esoteric pieces. The sound is vibrant and consistently warm.

—Steven Ritter




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