From his Fantasie in G Major, D 1, published in 1822 when he was twenty-five years old, through the Andante in A minor, D 968, composed in 1831, the final year of his short life, Franz Schubert wrote many piano duets. These compositions, meant to be played on one piano, four hands were among the most beloved of Schubert’s compositions, ranking in popularity with his songs in the salons of Vienna of the composer’s time.
During the years they were active as a concert piano duo, starting in 1984 and continuing through Goldstone’s passing in 2017, Caroline Clemmow and Anthony Goldstone concertized widely in the UK and Europe and in the United States. They also recorded in addition to this set of the complete piano duos of Franz Schubert , eighteen other CD’s of music for piano duo by composers ranging from Mozart to contemporary English ones all under the creative supervision of Stephen Sutton, of Divine Art.
The boxed set, Franz Schubert – The Complete Original Piano Duets – Goldstone & Clemmow (dda21701) is nicely produced and annotated by the artists themselves. The total playing time of close to nine hours requires the listener to set aside quality time to devote to the enjoyment of this set of seven CD’s. I did, over the course of a week and came away from the experience with very positive feelings and a sense of accomplishment.
Because the selections are not played in any particular order other than that determined by the choice of the artists, it would be unnecessary to list all the selections, and nearly impossible to give a critical commentary on each of the several dozen compositions. Suffice then for one to share overall impressions, starting with that of being awestruck by the undertaking itself.
We listened with admiration to the youthful Sonata in C ‘Grand Duo’, D. 81 and to the mature Fantasie in F minor, D. 940, the Allegro in A minor (‘Lebensstürme’), D. 947, and the Sonata in C ‘Grand Duo’, D. 812. The playing of Goldstone & Clemmow is assured at all times, idiomatic, quite often virtuosic, and always unfailingly imaginative. The musicianship, the accuracy, the inventiveness are there, and throughout all seven of these recitals on CD one senses from this invaluable duo an abiding love for this music.
The artists recorded the set over two years – 1998 and 1999, and the acoustically friendly environment of the Church of St. John the Baptist in Alkborough, North Lincolnshire in the artists’ native England gives the set an up close sonic quality that is most satisfying.
As is the case here and with title after title in the Divine Art catalogue this boxed set is an indispensable treasure trove of musical rarities played by two remarkable artists.