BBC Music Magazine

In an age when, to hear the music, you often had to play it yourself, publishers would routinely issue symphonies and chamber works in arrangements for piano duo. In his informative note Anthony Goldstone remarks of the four-hands version of the Trout, made by Czech composer Josef Czerny (no relation of the more famous Carl), the year after Schubert’s death, that if we didn’t know the Quintet we could happily accept the duo as the original. The trouble is that we do know it. And though Czerny did a thoroughly professional job, and the performance has a robust alfresco vigour – if hardly the last degree of poetry or finesse – we inevitably miss the sustaining power of the strings and the delightful contrasts of timbre on which so much of the invention is built.

There are no such problems in Hungarian composer Ede Poldini’s entertaining, over-the-top study on the E flat Impromptu, D. 899/2, which at one point mischievously slips in a theme from the Wanderer Fantasy. And Prokofiev’s piquant, glittering take on a sequence of waltzes and German Dances is well worth hearing. Performances are always enjoyable if longer on breezy energy than colouristic subtlety (though the bright, resonant church acoustic hardly flatters the piano sound.) Goldstone himself offers a skilful, sensitively harmonised realisation of a polonaise fragment (D.618a) that Schubert left as a melodic outline. But it’s hard to work up any enthusiasm for the crude transcription (by Schubert’s friend Josef Hüttenbrenner) of the Rosamunde Overture, or the arrangements of the Adagio from the C major Quintet; if ever medium and message were indivisible, it is here.

—Richard Wigmore