Russian Fantasy

COMPOSERS: Glinka (arr. Liapunov & Ashkenazy),Music for two pianos by Borodin (trans. Ashkenazy),Musorgsky (arr. Ashkenazy),Rachmaninov & Scriabin
LABELS: Decca
ALBUM TITLE: Russian Fantasy
WORKS: Music for two pianos by Borodin (trans. Ashkenazy), Glinka (arr. Liapunov & Ashkenazy), Musorgsky (arr. Ashkenazy), Rachmaninov & Scriabin
PERFORMER: Vladimir Ashkenazy, Vovka Ashkenazy
CATALOGUE NO: 478 2940

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Still a boy when his father recorded the Rachmaninov Suites for two pianos with André Previn, a now mature-looking Vovka Ashkenazy joins Vladimir Ashkenazy for this new release. The most substantial work here is Rachmaninov’s Suite No. 1 in G minor. Ashkenazy senior’s comprehensive Rachmaninov recordings are, of course, a collective high point in his long-standing relationship with Decca. But a recent father-son two-piano collaboration has given him a welcome excuse to revisit this early work, written in 1893 when the composer was 20. Together, the Ashkenazys tap into the deep vein of melancholy in the third movement and summon up a thunderous clanging of bells in the Easter-inspired finale.

Scriabin’s earlier Fantasy in A minor is musically more adventurous. Well written for equal partners, it’s the only other work here originally conceived for two pianos. Glinka’s Valse-fantasie is arranged twice over, with Vovka Ashkenazy adapting Lyapunov’s four-hand version. Vovka is also the arranger of the popular Musorgsky and Borodin pieces. Though the performances add little to our musical understanding of these scores, they are full of taut and virtuosic double pianism.

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John Allison