LABELS: FIS Records 2013
ALBUM TITLE: Stravinsky
WORKS: The Rite of Spring; Tango; Three East Pieces; Five Easy Pieces; Dumbarton Oaks
PERFORMER: Ursula von Lerber, Christian Erbslöh (Piano)
Stravinsky worked on his piano version of The Rite of Spring at the same time as the full score. Written for four hands, it makes for a fascinating alternative, suggesting how much of the material emerged from the movement of Stravinsky’s hands at the keyboard. It also reveals different emphases and clarifies details that are obscured in the tumult of the full score. Playing with unanimity, due sensitivity to balances and tremendous energy, the duo team of Ursula von Lerber and Christian Erbslöh offer a dynamic and convincing account. The Geneva recording is closely miked, as if directly from behind the players – it sounds a bit clangorous in climaxes, but captures the full left-to‑right range of the keyboard.
After this, the little Tango, in Victor Babin’s two-piano arrangement, is suitably intent, and the Satie-esque treatment of popular styles in the sets of Easy Pieces is nicely deadpan. It has been suggested that Stravinsky was inspired to compose his Concerto in E flat Dumbarton Oaks after he and his son Soulima played through Max Reger’s piano duet transcriptions of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos. No wonder his transcription of his own 15-instrument score back into two-piano medium works so well. And the performance here is a delight: witty, well paced, thoroughly musical – as is the whole disc. Hopeless documentation, though: merely a minutely printed bilingual folded leaflet. Bayan Northcott