American Record Guide

I must label this delightful in every way. Clemmow and Goldstone have consistently supplied me with listening pleasure over the years. I still listen to their wonderful discs of Grieg (Divine Art 25042, Jan/Feb 2008), Mozart (25046, Jan/Feb 2008) and Gershwin-Ravel (25057, Sept/Oct 2008). When I saw the colorful booklet cover, I expected an enjoyable collections of bon-bons (or the Spanish equivalent) and maybe Ravel’s Rhapsody Espagnole .

The reality, as you see above, is a few bonbons and a number of much more substantial little-known works, very possibly getting their first commercial recording with this release. The two-piano version of Falla’s Nights in the Gardens of Spain and Rimsky-Korsakoff’s own piano duet version of his Capriccio Espagnol are major additions to the recorded repertory. As a collector with a penchant for the obscure, I welcome the completion of my piano duet collection of the three large Russian orchestral capriccios composed in the late 19th Century. The other two are Tchaikovsky’s Italian (Labeques) and Rachmaninoff’s Bohemian (Pleshakov & Winther).

The other substantial works here include Chabrier’s own two-piano arrangement of his best-known work, the orchestral rhapsody España . It is a brilliant program opener, fabulously performed. There are first-hand accounts of Chabrier performing this piece on the piano “as if a hurricane had been let loose”. The familiar Rodrigo Concierto de Aranjuez is a cornerstone of the classical guitar repertoire, and the central Adagio movement is possibly the composer’s best known work. While my guitarist colleague and friend would undoubtedly disapprove, playing both the guitar part and an orchestral reduction on pianos works quite well. There are moments such as the climax of the guitar cadenza, just before the full orchestra comes in, where this performance makes you forget that you are listening to two pianists. Lecuona’s ‘Malagueña’ took me back to my teens when I also played it. The Saint-Saens and Chaminade are delivered with just the right panache. Granados and Tarrega complete this most entertaining release.

—Harrington