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   Piano Duo or 4-Hands

Romantic Belgian Chamber Music

Koch-Schwann Musique en Wallonie MEW0423

François-Joseph Fétis

String Quintet #1 in A minor (1859) 1
Grand Sextet (1818) 2,3
Sonata #1 for Piano 4-Hands in A Major 2
Sonata #2 for Piano 4-Hands in D Major 2
Sonata #3 for Piano 4-Hands in G Major 2

1 Michel Collin & André Martin, violins
1 Guy Decleire & Louis Logie, viola
1 Edmond Baert, cello
2 Dominique Cornil & Olivier Gardon, piano 4-hands
3 Veronique Bogaerts & François Chamberlan, violins
3 Paul de Clerck, viola
3 Hans Mannes, cello
Koch-Schwann Musique en Wallonie MEW0423 77:52

Born into a Belgian family of instrument makers and musicians, Fétis became perhaps the most important music historian and musicologist of the 19th century, as well as an influential critic. Though his writings were encyclopedic, his compositional output was relatively sparse.

His chamber music consists of three string quartets, three string quintets, the sextet included here (scored for the unusual combination of piano 4-hands, 2 violins, viola & cello) and a few other pieces, including these 4-hand piano sonatas from 1819. All of the works are finely crafted, and often quite beautiful. The performances are committed and first rate. Hard to find, but worth the trouble.

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - CD Universe ]

[ Sheet music by this composer: Sheet Music Plus - ]

Unknown Piano Works

CPO 999256

Anton Bruckner

Lancer-Quadrille (c. 1850)
Steiermärker (c. 1850)
Quadrille for Piano Four Hands (c. 1854)
Three Little Pieces for Piano Four Hands
Klavierstück in E Flat Major (c. 1856)
Sonata Movement in G Minor (1862)
Silent Meditation on an Autumn Evening (1863)
Fantasie (1868)
Reminiscence (c.1868)

Wolfgang Brunner, Michael Schopper, pianos
CPO 999256 47:21

o put this music into context, all but the last two pieces were written before the F Minor (Study) Symphony, his first completed work in that form. It's interesting to hear the composer's early efforts. There is very little in the piano music to hint at what was to come. Much of it sounds like very early Schubert or one of the Viennese composers of lighter music such as Lanner. This CD makes an excellent source of music for fooling your friends!

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic ]

[ Sheet music by this composer: Sheet Music Plus - ]

Brahms, but Not for Purists!

Naxos 8.554817

Johannes Brahms

String Sextet #1 in B Flat Major, Op. 18 (1860)
String Sextet #2 in G Major, Op. 36 (1865)

Silke-Thora Matthies & Christian Köhn, piano four-hands
Naxos 8.554817 74:35

This is Volume 13 of the Naxos series of releases of Brahms' arrangements for either piano four-hands or for two pianos. So far the traversal has covered many of his works including the symphonies, the concertos, the chamber music for four or more players, and the German Requiem, and a few works by other composers, notably Schumann's Piano Quintet. All are performed by these two fine players: there are 17 CDs in all, of which this is a representative sample.

There are some music lovers who find arrangements of any kind something to avoid, usually citing the composer's intentions. The difference in this case is that the arrangements are by the composer, for the usual reason, to make them accessible to a wider audience. Hearing these familiar works in this guise points up details not always noticed from the originals and refreshes one's interest in the works generally. The whole series is very recommendable indeed.

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe ]