Duo Uriarte-Mrongrovius

Rachmaninov: Symphonic Dances, Op. 45; Suite No. 2, Op. 17; Fantasia, Op. 5

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Rachmaninov seldom composed works for piano duet, so this CD of his arrangement of the Symphonic Dances, Op. 45; the Suite No. 2 in C major, Op. 17; and the Fantasia (Suite No. 1) in G minor, Op. 5, may appeal more to collectors of rarities than to a broader audience. Since Rachmaninov's final masterpiece is one of his most impressively orchestrated works, it seems that a transcription of the Symphonic Dances naturally requires two pianos to encompass the score's full range of voices and colors. Pianists Begoña Uriarte and Karl-Hermann Mrongovius bring off the work with energy and fire, which they have in abundance; but they seem to have some trouble with coordination and even greater difficulty with evoking orchestral timbres on the keyboard -- the result is a slightly unsynchronized clangor that lacks shadings and nuances. Without an orchestral conception behind them, the two early suites are pure keyboard works, and in their showy displays of runs, octaves, tremolos, arpeggios, and dense chords, they seem to require fewer niceties of tone production. Uriarte and Mrongovius play these pieces with impressive force and flair, and seem to enjoy themselves more in this flashy music than in the leaner Symphonic Dances. The reproduction is decent, but a little deficient in depth and presence.

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