Rimsky-Korsakov for Piano Duo
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Label: Divine Art
Cat No: DDA25118
Number of Discs: 1
Release Date: 29th September 2014
WorksNeapolitan song, op.63 (version for piano duet)
Scheherazade, op.35 (arr. for four hands)
Symphony no.2, op.9 'Antar' (arr. Nadezhda Purgold for piano duet)
ArtistsGoldstone & Clemmow
When Rimsky-Korsakov began work on what turned out to be his most popular work, Scheherazade, after 'One Thousand and One Nights', in the winter of 1887-8, he was firmly established in St Petersburg both as a professor and as a major composer. As a prominent member of the 'nationalist' school of Russian composers, he was nevertheless inspired by the music of other cultures, Spain and the middle east being obvious examples. In Scheherazade, though, it seems that there are no authentic Arabic melodies such as we find in his earlier middle-eastern-inspired work Antar.
It should be mentioned that the composer considered it sufficiently important to write a four hand transcription of the work himself, and not to delegate the task, that he interrupted work on an opera for two weeks to do so. The result is highly complex but enormously effective and rewarding. There is scope for more spontaneity and flexibility than would be possible with a large orchestra, and the timbres are remarkably pungent.
At the time when he was working on Antar, Rimsky-Korsakov became friendly with the cultured Purgold family and four years later married the youngest daughter Nadezhda, who became his great support. She was a fine pianist and a composer in her own right, having studied with Tchaikovsky’s teacher Zaremba, and it was she who was entrusted with transcribing Antar for four hands.
Six months before he died, Rimsky-Korsakov produced his jolly Neapolitan Song, Op.63, based on Denza’s ‘Funiculi Funicula’, which is performed on this CD in his own four-hand version for piano. Before the first performance he withdrew it, having been dissatisfied with it at the rehearsal. However the composer’s self-criticism seems unjust, as the idiosyncratic key changes add humorous twists to the well-known tarantella melody, resulting in a rollicking occasional piece.
With CDs approaching forty in number and a busy concert schedule stretching back more than thirty years, the British piano duo Goldstone and Clemmow is firmly established as a leading force. Described by Gramophone as ‘a dazzling husband and wife team’, by International Record Review as ‘a British institution in the best sense of the word’, and by The Herald, Glasgow, as ‘the UK’s pre-eminent two-piano team’, internationally known artists Anthony Goldstone and Caroline Clemmow formed their duo in 1984 and married in 1989.
In their refreshingly presented concerts they mix famous masterpieces and fascinating rarities, which they frequently unearth themselves, into absorbing and hugely entertaining programmes; their numerous BBC broadcasts have often included first hearings of unjustly neglected works, and their equally enterprising and acclaimed commercial recordings include many world premičres.
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