WORKS: Concerto in E flat for Two Pianos, K365; Concerto in F for Three Pianos, K242; Piano Quartet in G minor, K478
PERFORMER: Arthur Gold, Robert Fizdale (piano), Robert Mann (violin), Raphael Hillyer (viola), Claus Adam (cello); New York PO/Leonard Bernstein (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: SMK 60598 ADD Reissue (1966)
The chief point of interest in the Chandos disc is likely to be the rarity by Bruch – an adaptation of a suite for organ and orchestra. The work’s origin is evident in the declamatory prelude and the liturgical-sounding fugue that follows; but more impressive than those is the slow movement, built out of one of those yearning, impassioned tunes at which Bruch was so adept. The Pekinel sisters seem much more attuned to this piece than to the youthful Mendelssohn E major Concerto or the Mozart, both of which suffer from exaggerated expressiveness. The heavy ritardando at the start of the recapitulation in the opening movement of the Mozart, where the music takes an unexpected turn to the minor, is just one of many moments that sound stylistically incongruous. The reverberant recording makes for uncomfortable listening.
Gold and Fizdale make heavy weather of the Mozart, too, and they are not helped by Bernstein’s plodding tempi. Nor is Bernstein at his happiest in the G minor Piano Quartet, whose slow movement in particular feels laboured. Much the best thing on this Sony disc is the Triple Concerto – immaculately balanced, and played at last with a real sense of enjoyment. Misha Donat