Husband-and-wife duo Anthony Goldstone and Caroline Clemmow have traversed a vast range of two-piano repertoire in over 20 years of playing together. This all-Chopin release features, in addition to a two-piano version of the F minor Piano Concerto (no.2), contains a number of arrangements by other hands. In fact there is only one work of pure Chopin. This is the early op.73 Rondo, written in 1828 initially for solo piano, but followed by a two-piano version a year later. It’s an attractive piece in the bravura style of Hummel and Weber, and despite its expressive unadventurousness, Goldstone and Clemmow make a strong case for it.
The next closest to pure Chopin is Goldstone’s arrangement of the Variations on ‘Non più mesta’ from Rossini’s La cenerentola , in which Goldstone has resisted the temptation to over-thicken the original solo flute part, preserving the piece as the delectable confection that it is. Goldstone sparkles in the upper register here, though this is the only place where the recording quality is questionable, exposing a top end that is a touch plastic in sound. There’s also the Variations on a Theme of Moore and Brahm’s Study after the F minor Etude op.25 no.2 (arranged for two pianos), both of them in Goldstone’s own arrangements, and three further arrangements by other hands. Of the last, the Valse paraphrase by Eduard Schutt of the Waltz op.58 no. 1 is the most boldly re-imaginative. Goldstone and Clemmow meet it with flair, abandon and technical sure-footing.
Perhaps suprisingly, this liberal sprinkling of miniatures and arrangements actually outweighs a rather disappointing F minor Concerto. Not that these pianists have any shortcomings to speak of; but removing the timbral distinction between piano and orchestra leaves the work fundamentally denatured.
The players let their hair down, however, with Goldstone’s Revolutionary Raindrop Rag – which, enfolding its eponymous étude and prelude in a piano rag, does pretty well what it says on the tin, and in a highly refreshing way. It also features a number of blink-and-you’ll-miss-them rain-related references, including Debussy’s ‘Jardins sous la pluie’ from Estampes and even Raindrops keep falling on my head.