Fanfare

If you have ever wondered what a Chopin Piano Concerto would sound like played on two pianos, you are a more curious person than I am. Nonetheless, Chopin himself did some of the arrangement of the piano Concerto No. 2 heard here. I can imagine it was a way of getting his larger pieces heard. Evidently the autograph of the piece has Chopin’s own second part written in his own hand, though with significant gaps, as whenever the solo pianist was playing. So there is some justification for this recording. It is interesting that there are several significant changes in the score justified by the autograph, That said, I find that much of the effect of the most beautiful writing, as in the beginning of the second movement, is attenuated by the lack of the usual contrast between the piano and the strings; and the duo’s habit of rolling many of the chords in a melodramatic way doesn’t help. Several of the other works were rearranged by composers whom I otherwise do not know. Then there is the Brahms study, a brief work that was rearranged by Goldstone, who also wrote the punning rag piece based on Chopin themes with which the disc concludes. The playing throughout is exuberant rather than introspective. I am not sure that I am entirely comfortable with a Chopin that seems to shade off towards Gilbert and Sullivan at times, but this is certainly a unique disc.

—Michael Ullman