WORKS: Piano Music for Four Hands
PERFORMER: Yaara Tal, Andreas Groethuysen (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: SK 53110 DDD
The notes accompanying this disc bear the appealingly candid title ‘A forgotten composer’; this is indeed an evangelical enterprise by the piano duo Yaara Tal and Andreas Groethuysen, who profess a passion (‘Love at first sight’) for the music of Louis Théodore Gouvy. Gouvy was born on the Franco-German border in 1819, and abandoned an early ambition to become a piano virtuoso after realising he couldn’t hope to rival Liszt (whom he later partnered at whist). Devoting himself to composition, Gouvy shunned the fashion for programme music, preferring a more strictly formal Classicism, shown here by his three sonatas. These are nicely complementary works, elegant and melodic showpieces for piano duet, but for all this and despite the evident enthusiasm of Tal and Groethuysen, there remains a studied, even pedagogic, taste to Gouvy’s adherence to sonata form.
Most impressive are the pieces in which the composer allows his improvisatory wit a freer rein, particularly the virtuoso Prelude and the conversational Aubade, reminiscent of Schumann in light-hearted mood. Tal and Groethuysen make a formidable team, and accommodate the contrasting demands of virtuosity and transparency with panache, sympathetically bringing to life music which might otherwise have indeed remained a forgotten footnote. William Humphreys-Jones