This recording by the Transcontinental Piano Duo is another example of the period-instrument movement finally making its way into the piano repertoire in the first decades of the 21st century. The team of Elaine Greenfield and Janice Meyer Thompson chose a 1877 Érard piano for their program of French gems of the four-hand literature. The Érard pianos with their parallel stringing (as opposed to cross-stringing) were favored by French pianists well into the 20th century, including the composers here. The more resonant sound, which may have been enhanced by the recording venue, is what distinguishes this performance from recordings of the same material. It adds a level of otherworldliness to the Ravel and to the Debussy, that steps up the translucent nature of the composers' colors. Still, it's not a sound that may appeal to everyone. Those who don't like the sound of fortepianos may not like this either. In the Bizet and Fauré the sparkling passages are more brilliant and exciting, but otherwise, the piano's sound doesn't enhance the music, and the duo's playing in those places would probably sound just as thrilling on a modern instrument. The audience for French Piano Four-Hands with the Elegant Erard should be those curious about the history of the piano or the period performance of this particular repertoire. As interesting as it is, however, for anyone else approaching this music for the first time, it might be better to start elsewhere.
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AllMusic Review by Patsy Morita
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