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New piano duet CDs are two a penny at the moment. This Goldstone-Clemmow Scheherazade is actually a reissue from 1990: playing and synchronisation are technically immaculate and interpretation happily recalls that of orchestral performances. A few features we miss were deliberately left out of the arrangement, Rimsky’s own. The less well-known Antar, Rimsky’s much-revised Second Symphony (arranged here by the composer’s wife), is a new performance: even deprived of orchestral colour, Goldstone and Clemmow maintain the interest in a piece that can seem over-repetitive. The third piece on the disc is a most entertaining reworking of Denza’s tune Funiculì, Funiculà, a potential encore-piece that duet recitalists should seek out without delay.

This Basel Symphony Orchestra own-label Rite of Spring includes performances with and without orchestra. Again, the arrangement (for one piano) is the composer’s own. Namekawa and Davies strive for as literal a rendering of the duet as possible: technique and synchronisation are impressive, but misprints are deliberately left uncorrected. Part of the ‘Sacrificial Dance’ goes at half speed (a tempo indication missing from the original manuscript, perhaps?), themes are stated but left unphrased, and pizzicato crotchets are all sustained full length. Purely as a document, this is outstanding – but it sounds infinitely plainer than the orchestral performance, superbly conducted by Davies himself.

MICHAEL ROUND Read the full review on Agora Classica

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