Brahms; Saint-Saens

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Brahms; Saint-Saens
LABELS: Warner
ALBUM TITLE: Brahms & Saint-Saens
WORKS: Sonata for two pianos in F minor
PERFORMER: Güher & Süher Pekinel (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 2564 61959-2
The Turkish piano-duo twins

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Güher and Süher Pekinel turn

in a very creditable performance

of Brahms’s two-piano Sonata

in F minor. I particularly liked

their crispness of attack, the

light, alert staccato that avoids

undue heaviness; and much of

the music is beautifully paced

and articulated, especially in the

Andante, performed with great

emotional sympathy and ideal

plasticity of phrasing. Here and

there are momentary lapses of

ensemble, virtually inevitable in

a work so taxing for the medium.

But overall this is fine playing, and

superbly recorded, too.

Yet I found their performance

somehow uninvolving: perhaps a

mite superficial, even jaunty

where Brahms intends considerably

more pathos and passion. They

cannot rival the powerful

articulation of the near-symphonic

sweep of the Sonata’s designs,

and the sheer depth and intensity

with which Emanuel Ax and

Yefim Bronfman (reviewed in

August) invest its complex and

troubled moods. Though far

better recorded, what the Pekinels’

interpretation lacks above all is

a sense of struggle, something

that is integral to any meaningful

conception of the piece.Their virtues serve them better

in the two Hungarian Dances, and

in Brahms’s own, seldom-heard

two-piano versions of five of the

Op. 39 Waltzes, all beautifully

done. And their talents are ideally

suited to the ironic classicizing of

Saint-Saëns’s witty and inventive

Variations on a Theme of Beethoven,

once quite well-known but these

days a rarity indeed. Trim, smart

and admirably controlled (like the

piece itself ), their excellent account

of this formidably accomplished

work is the real reason to buy the

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disc. Calum MacDonald