WORKS: Concerto for Two Pianos
PERFORMER: Genova & Dimitrov Piano Duo, NDR Radio PO Hannover/Eiji Oue
CATALOGUE NO: 999 804-2
At first sight Schnittke and Martinu might not seem an obvious pairing. Schnittke’s stylistic span, from thorough-going modernism to near pastiche, is a long way from Martinu’s integrated, neo-tonal idiom. On the other hand, both composers share an interest in process as a means of generating impetus. Composed in 1943, Martinu’s Two-Piano Concerto is almost a pendant work to his Second Cello Concerto begun the following year. Both works are predominantly optimistic and often richly lyrical, although the Two-Piano Concerto is a little spikier. The two soloists respond to all these qualities with great verve and enthusiasm which, along with some alert orchestral accompanying, makes for a memorable performance of this unjustly neglected work.
The Duo is more than equal to the very different demands of the Schnittke concerto. Here the conductor is more crucial in determining the line and development of the work; Eiji Oue’s grip on the proceedings ensures an impressive level of coherence. The two remaining pieces show very different sides of Schnittke: slightly off-colour Romanticism facing down the aggressively modern in his Hommage à Grieg and Baroque style cosying up to popular dance in the Polyphonic Tango. It is an intriguing mix and well worth investigating. Jan Smaczny