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JS Bach • Mozart • Schubert: Sonatas, etc

Piano Duo Scholtes & Janssens (Challenge)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

JS Bach • Mozart  Schubert
JS Bach/Kurtág: Das alte Jahr vergangen ist, BWV 614; Nun komm’ der Heiden Heiland, BWV 599; Mozart: Sonata for Two Pianos in D, K 448; Schubert: Fantasie for Piano Four Hands in F minor, D940
Piano Duo Scholtes & Janssens
Challenge Classics CC 72848   43:34 mins

‘Every note that’s slightly misplaced, every chord that’s not properly balanced can tarnish the performance,’ say Scholtes & Janssens in the CD booklet. They mostly avoid these traps, more noticeable in the play between the four hands of two pianists than in a varied duo – violin and piano, say. They breathe together, agree on relative dynamics and tonal colour and understand the balance of the textures.

The outer movements of the Mozart certainly convey the respective Allegro con spirito and Allegro molto characters in their verve and attack, although there is a tendency to rush in semiquaver passages. That’s offset, especially in the final rondo, by a neat sense of rubato in the junctions between the various sections, which conveys a gentle sense of humour. The central Andante also has a pleasing pliability of pulse, enhancing the cantabile flow of the music, and again there’s enough attack and brightness in the phrasing to ensure that the timbre doesn’t become unsuitably sentimental.

In the opening of the Schubert, there’s a similar care over rubato, and they set a good tempo: the elegiac nature of the music can lead to too restrained a speed, and make the subsequent changes of tack unwieldy. Here the eddies and cross-currents in the first section are all comprehended within the basic pulse, and the Largo grows naturally out if it, leading to a real change of mood in the tightly controlled Allegro vivace, before the reprise, with its unexpectedly violent fugal centre. A consistently musical interpretation.

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Martin Cotton