WORKS: Sonata in D for Two Pianos, K448; Fugue in C minor, K426
PERFORMER: András Schiff, Peter Serkin (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 465 062-2
This concert’s focus on fugal composition is ingeniously conceived. For, although they may come from very different backgrounds, Schiff’s and Serkin’s playing on this latest release of music for two pianos presents a programme of persuasive musical argument. Mozart’s C minor Fugue (K426) sets the pace with sensitive phrasing and gritty contrapuntal dialogue.
Reger took the eleventh Bagatelle from Op.119 as the subject for his Variations and Fugue on a theme of Beethoven. Both pianists evince the sublime poetry in this theme’s hymnic innocence with striking interpretative uniformity. The subsequent music triumphantly affirms their common appetite for musical adventure as they thread the theme through Reger’s richly imaginative and orchestrally scored variations with crystal clarity.
The alchemy of Schiff’s and Serkin’s subtly-nuanced keyboard touch and percipient voice leading likewise effectively release the fantasy in Busoni’s Fantasia contrappuntistica (the composer’s extraordinary ‘completion’ of Bach’s Die Kunst der Fuge), culminating marvelously in the final fugue’s majestic climax.
Ironically, notwithstanding this duo’s immaculate ensemble, Schiff and Serkin sound curiously at odds in the expressive detail of Mozart’s D major Sonata (K448/375a). However, the uneasy tension that lies beneath this performance’s glossy concerto surface reaches a happy compromise in the good-humoured finale. Nicholas Rast