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Bridge Records have produced many fascinating multi-volume series, for example those devoted to Crumb, Lerdahl, Ruders, Arlene Sierra and Stepan Wolpe (1902-72). Another recurrent feature is music for two pianos performed by Quattro Mani, and this most recent Wolpe volume is given over entirely to three such works from the decade 1932-1942.

All three are substantial, finely crafted creations, very varied in charact er. The March and Variations (1932) comprise a remarkably integrated fusion of march fantasy and symphonic variations, with a heroic sub-plot derived from Wolpe’s socialist revolutionary politics. Those views also colour his ballet The Man from Midian (1942), a wartime rethink of the Moses story, partly inspired by Wolpe’s time in Palestine. The dodecaphonic Two Studies on Basic Rows (1935-6) – recorded here for the first time – are more severe, despite their extended spans.

The performances by Steven Beck and Susan Grace are exemplary for their precision and clarity, finely captured in splendid sound by Bridge.

GUY RICKARDS Read the full review on Agora Classica


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