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Poulenc, Milhaud, Bartók: Concertos for Two Pianos
     

Poulenc, Milhaud, Bartók: Concertos for Two Pianos

by Quattro Mani
 
The cover art for this disc doesn't exactly tell anyone what's in store when s/he listens. What do cats playing bassoon and cello have to do with music for two pianos and percussion? Nothing, really. Regardless, the disc is well worth hearing both for the selection of works and the performances. Susan Grace and

Overview

The cover art for this disc doesn't exactly tell anyone what's in store when s/he listens. What do cats playing bassoon and cello have to do with music for two pianos and percussion? Nothing, really. Regardless, the disc is well worth hearing both for the selection of works and the performances. Susan Grace and Alice Rybak, the two pianists of Quattro Mani, matched Poulenc's popular "Concerto for Two Pianos" with concertos for two pianos and percussion by Milhaud and Bartók. The Poulenc can be percussive at times, which makes it a good match with the other two works here, and there is a direct, historical link between the Milhaud and Bartók. (Milhaud used the Bartók as a model in terms of instrumentation, but did not want to imitate Bartók.) All three concertos call for precision and energy from all the performers, and Quattro Mani, the featured percussionists (John Kinzie and David Colson), and the Colorado College Summer Music Festival Orchestra carry it off very well indeed. There is a blend of sound from the pianos, percussion, and orchestra that isn't scintillatingly bright and sharp (partly due to the sound of the recording), but is so exact that the intent of the music comes through perfectly well even in its softened edges. This is an advantage both in the Poulenc, where melodic passages are given a warm sweetness, and in the infrequently performed Milhaud. There, the blend of timbres is what enables the listener to follow the "conversation" of the voices. In the outer movements in particular, where the percussion is more prominent, the way all the musicians work together to shape the music through dynamics and articulation gives it a very naturalistic sound, at times magical and at others like an entirely carefree chit-chat. If this were a much brighter recording, the drama in the slightly more familiar Bartók concerto would be more intensely and immediately felt, but otherwise, that's all this performance is lacking. It is most impressive that the orchestra, under conductor Scott Yoo, is so highly professional sounding even though most of its members are students and it isn't a regular, standing ensemble with a full season. With the choices of music and collaborators, Quattro Mani has created an exceptionally satisfying disc.

Product Details

Release Date:
05/08/2007
Label:
Bridge
UPC:
0090404922428
catalogNumber:
9224

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Concerto for 2 pianos & orchestra in D minor, FP 61
  2. Concerto, for 2 pianos & 4 percussionists No. 2, Op. 394
  3. Concerto for 2 pianos, percussion & orchestra, Sz. 115, BB 121

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