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This is an intriguing disc of music for harp and piano performed by a mother-daughter duo. The duo’s stated intent is to ‘breathe new life into the thrilling instrumental partnership of harp and piano’, and this disc goes some way to indicate their stance. The Duo Praxedis makes their own arrangements of pieces for piano duet/two pianos, as well as commissioning new works.

Taken from a two-piano original, the Cui is absolutely charming; the turbulent middle section of the central Notturno is particularly appealing (Gilels and Flier, incidentally, recorded of two of this set).

The arrangements are uniformly fine. Comparing what one hears against the score of Tchaikovsky’s Chant sans paroles, the skill in apportioning the load between the instruments, plus additional harp counterpoints, becomes clear.

The music of Arensky has never really achieved the popularity it deserves. Fresh and beautifully constructed, one hopes this recording of the Opus 15 Suite will go some way to repair the situation. The use of harp washes of sound in the French-influenced Valse is particularly effective. (Of the versions for two pianos, Stephen Coombs and Ian Munro on Hyperion is a sound recommendation.)

A dark element emerges from Musorgsky’s Berceuse. Most fascinating of all, though, is the arrangement (taken from the composer’s own piano duet version) of Rimsky’s Scheherazade. Although the booklet’s claim that using harp brings the composer’s arrangement to life is hard to justify completely, there is no denying the more fluid moments are effective. The disc ends with a delicious diminuendo into a sea of silence.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica


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