The two-piano arrangement of orchestral music remained a commercially viable form until the advent of recordings, and even beyond. This recording by the veteran French team of Pascal and Ami Rogé includes several works originally written for two pianos: Ravel's Rhapsodie espagnole and Ma mère l'oye (Mother Goose Suite), the latter better known in its orchestral version, and Saint-Saëns' underrated Scherzo, Op. 87, whose use of whole-tone scales shows that Debussy was not alone in breathing that wind from the east. The rest of the music was arranged, but these are equally "authentic." The lovely arrangement of Debussy's Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune was made by Debussy himself, contemporaneously with the publication of the orchestral score, and that of Fêtes is by Ravel and captures the firework effects of the original in ingenious ways. Best of all is the remaking of Debussy's La mer, which is by the Rogés themselves and gets a startling variety of shades out of the two pianos. The pianists perform all this music very well, as you might expect, keeping the dynamics in the moderate-to-low range as befits the domestic uses of such arrangements. The sole complaint is the sound; Onyx's engineers, working in the small Salle de musique hall in Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, seem to have been similarly aiming at an intimate atmosphere, but the results are muddy and diffuse. This is nevertheless an item that will give pleasure to duo-piano fans.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Ma Mère l'Oye|