Goldstone & Clemmow Piano Duo / Caroline Clemmow / Anthony Goldstone

Gershwin, Ravel: Music for Piano Duo

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George Gershwin and Maurice Ravel are rarely paired on recording and concert programs, even though they spent a good deal of time together, clearly admired each other, and likely influenced each other. The duo piano team of Goldstone & Clemmow (Anthony Goldstone and Caroline Clemmow) is British, which may have made it easier for them to see the connections; in America Gershwin tends to be put in his own box or linked with other "crossover" music. In any event, the pairing makes all kinds of sense, even if the duo does not include Ravel's jazziest music. The Concerto for the left hand might have made a good answer to Rhapsody in Blue, if indeed a two-piano version exists. The music you do hear consists mostly of music written for two pianists, with a few adaptations, plus the ambiguous cases of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue and Cuban Overture, which were originally for two pianists but were intended to be orchestrated. Rhapsody in Blue deserves to be more widely heard in this version, and Goldstone & Clemmow deliver a fine, non-schmaltzy reading. If the big secondary theme loses impact without the orchestral strings Gershwin clearly had in mind for it, the conclusion of the work is a different story: a constellation of accents clearly derived from Gershwin's essentially pianistic way of thinking, on full display in the I Got Rhythm Variations. The Ravel works included all show the composer's tentative but irrresistible fascination with American music, and the only real clinker comes at the end: Ravel may indeed have arranged Boléro for two pianos, but this version is a pale shadow of the original. The booklet is full of interesting stories. Goldstone quotes Ravel's opinion that Gershwin was the potential founder of "a veritable school of American music" rooted in popular musical art, and one can only regret that nobody listened to him at the time. The program here sticks close to the available music but helps show what might have been possible, and the disc is a good offbeat pick for fans of either composer.

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