Carl Reinecke is one of the Romantic era's most under-rated composers. He was extremely prolific, but what seems to have kept him from becoming a figure lasting beyond the 19th century is his lack of compositional innovation. Reinecke relied on old forms and traditions of tonality and thematic development, all of which are found in these works for piano duet. His music is inventive and imaginative in terms of its expression, and always technically and interestingly well-written from the performer's standpoint. When played as well as Dian Baker and Eckart Sellheim perform here, the music also becomes engaging to the listener. The changing moods and the thematic development in the opening sonata conjure a romantic, heroic story; not melodramatic, but rousing in its way. The unexpectedly quiet coda of the finale is like a silent film fading to black. Reinecke often wrote music to illustrate stories, and the final suite here is based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale "The Swineherd." In that story, the characters sing the Danish version of the folk song "Oh, du lieber Augustin," and Reinecke works that into his music, as well. In the Improvisata über Gavotte von Christoph Willibald Gluck -- really a set of variations -- he works the "Musette" from Bach's English Suite No. 3 into the finale. Baker and Sellheim bring out the best in this music and make it truly appealing. They perform on a 1839 Erard fortepiano, which adds warmth to the charm of the music. Its pleasantness should be appreciated by fans of Romantic piano music in general, not just those who specialize in the duet repertoire.
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AllMusic Review by Patsy Morita
|Sonate a-moll, Op. 35|
|Improvisata über eine Gavotte von Christoph Willibald Gluck, Op. 125|
|Drei kleine Fantasien, Op. 9|
|Variationen über eine Sarabande von J. S. Bach, Op. 24|
|Musik zu Andersens Märchen vom Schweinehirten, Op. 286|