Classical CD Reviews

GOUVY: Works for Two Pianos = Sonata for Two Pianos; Scherzo; Lilli Bullero; March; Fantasie for Two Pianos; Divertissement – Laurent Martin & Carole Dubois, pianos – Ligia
CHABRIER: Complete Solo Piano Works and 4 Works for 4 Hands – Bruno Canino & Bertrand Giraud, pianos – Anima Records (2 CDs)

A pair of delightful two-piano CDs by French and half-French composers.

Published on August 18, 2013

THEODORE GOUVY: Works for Two Pianos = Sonata for Two Pianos in d minor Op. 66; Scherzo Op. 60; Lilli Bullero; March Op. 63; Fantasie for Two Pianos Op. 69; Divertissement for Two Pianos Op. 78 – Laurent Martin & Carole Dubois, pianos – Ligia Lidi 0302249-12, 79:48 (8/13/13) [Distr. by Albany] *****:

EMMANUEL CHABRIER: Complete Solo Piano Works and Works for 4 Hands [TrackList follows]  – Bruno Canino & Bertrand Giraud, pianos – Anima Records  ANM/130300002, (2 CDs) 65:01, 73:11 (5/1/13) [Distr. by Albany] ****:

Gouvy (1819-1898) was a fascinating composer, born in the Sarre region, divided between France and Germany. He was considered a French composer by the Germans and a German composer by the French, and received attention during his career thuout Europe except for France. Musicians of the time, such as Brahms, Joachim and Berlioz, held his chamber works in high regard.  Mendelssohn and Schumann were his models and he had a deft sense of instrumental timbre. He wrote over 200 works, but most have been largely ignored until recently. His repertory of piano works is huge, and this album brings us several of his two-piano compositions.

The album notes are entirely in French, and in spite of my name I am not totally conversant in French. There are many passages from the sheet music of various selections. Gouvy’s two-piano works are of prime interest because this is regarded as a lesser area of piano literature and the works all have some truly attractive and orchestral-sounding pieces which have been adapted for the two pianos. The only work here not originally composed for the two-piano medium is the Fantasie, which was transcribed from Gouvy’s work for orchestra. Lilli Bullero is an 11-minute set of variations on the English folk tune, and the two movements of the Divertissement for Two Pianos make a most enjoyable conclusion to the album.


The Chabrier 2-disc album is a bit of a disappointment because it gives the impression that one of the discs is of the solo piano works and the other the piano 4 hand works. That is not the case: only the final four selections on the second disc are for piano 4 hands, and all the rest are for Bruno Canino as the solo pianist.

Chabrier was admired by such diverse composers are Stravinsky, Satie, Debussy, Ravel and Richard Strauss, as well as by some of the leading painters and writers of his time. Best known for his orchestral works Espana and Marche Joyeuse, he also wrote a number of operas, songs and piano music. He got into composition rather late in life and was self-taught.  These discs bring together all his published piano works. Unexpected rhythms and shimmering harmonies are found in many of his works. Chabrier made a highly personal use of modal scales. His ability to create fireworks of sound in some of his orchestral music is sometimes transferred to his piano works, which abound in a playful spirit and often slight dissonances. Disc 1 opens with the Bourée fantasque, familiar from its orchestral version. Most of the first disc consists of his 10-movement Pieces Pittoresques. The three Waltzes for Two Pianos are especially tuneful on the second CD. The five short movements of his two-piano Souvenirs of Munich make a colorful finish to the entire album.

TrackList:

1. Bourrée fantasque
2. Air de Ballet
3. Petite Valse
4. Habanera
5. Marche des Cipayes
6. 10 pièces pittoresques
7. Souvenir de Brunehaut
8. Impromptu
9. Caprice
10. Ronde champêtre
11. Feuillet d’ album
12. Aubade
13. Ballabile
14. Three Valses romantiques
15. Prélude et Mache Française
16. Cortège Burlesque
17. Souvenirs de Munich

—John Sunier

 




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