Magazine article Gramophone

Bartok * Ligeti: 'Complete Music for Two Pianos'

Magazine article Gramophone

Bartok * Ligeti: 'Complete Music for Two Pianos'

Article excerpt

Bartok * Ligeti

'Complete Music for Two Pianos'

Bartok Suite No 2, Op 4 Sz34. The Miraculous Mandarin, Op 19 Sz73--Suite. Mikrokosmos--excs. Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion, Sz110 (a) Ligeti Three Pieces Matteo Fossi, Marco Gaggini pfs

(a) Federico Poli, (a) Gianni Giangrasso perc

Brilliant [S] (2) 94737 (116' * DDD)

The oom-pah figuration that launches Bartok's Suite, Op 4--which he arranged for two pianos in 1941 from his original 1907 orchestral version--gets briefly overlaid with a digital squeak here, and throughout this survey of Bartok and his music for two pianos, the booming magnificence of these sonic walks into the unknown are never quite captured as faithfully as you'd like. Loud dynamics mean smudgy textures and the recorded sound feels needlessly impersonal and functional.

Which is a pity, because the Italian pianists Matteo Fossi and Marco Gaggini (best known for their two-piano recording of the Brahms symphonies) play like a dream. The opening of The Miraculous Mandarin sounds paradoxically more orchestral than the orchestral version--if by 'orchestral' you mean clearly delineated layers of sound that congeal into a complex whole. True enough, with the introductions made and Bartok defaulting towards utilitarian tremolos to carry the action, colouristic and dramatic impetus is lost as nuts-and-bolts harmonic engineering begins to overwhelm the actual music. But the accumulated impact of that introduction is heady stuff indeed. …

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