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CD Review

Works for 2 Pianos

Begoña Uriarte & Karl Hermann Mrongovius, pianos
Arts 47597-2 DDD
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An interesting feature of Brahms' output is the fact that the composer arranged almost all his works for piano four hands or, in exceptional instances, for two pianos. He did this for a variety of performance demands but also to be able to etch out a decent living.

The Piano Quintet Op. 34 started life as a string quartet but was later conceived as a piano quintet and in a short while, the two-piano version also appeared on the scene. Critics agreed that together with the Clarinet Quintet, Op. 115, this work is one of Brahms' greatest contributions to the chamber repertoire. It is superbly crafted and full of dramatic overtones punctuated by moments of delicate serenity.

Schumann's Op. 44 is considered as one of his greatest chamber masterpieces, but in stark contrast, nothing is known as to how the two-piano version came about. Nevertheless, its harmonic and rhythmic attributes still come to the fore in a splendid manner in the version recorded here.

The Uriarte-Mrongovius partnership are at the very front of piano duets these days, and during their ten-year collaboration they have been showered with superlatives. Needless to say, they excel themselves here. A fine issue, splendidly recorded and beautifully presented as is wont of the ARTS label.

Copyright © 2008, Gerald Fenech