Recorded in 1997, Rhapsody is the first disc from sisterly piano duo Yuki and Tomoko Mack. Based in Michigan, the Macks tour widely throughout the United States, but so far the major recording companies haven't caught up to them, so this and two subsequent recordings have been financed on the Macks' own dime. Too bad for the major labels, as Rhapsody is easily as good as any disc made by the Labeques or the Pekinels. As its linchpin, Rhapsody features George Gershwin's ubiquitous Rhapsody in Blue as arranged by Henry Levine for one piano, four hands, but the collection is not limited to a rhapsodic theme or program. Here we have Francis Poulenc's Sonata for Two Pianos, played with bubbly joie de vivre in the typically Poulencian sections and with steely austerity in the thornier parts; Norman Dello Joio's compelling and refreshing Aria and Toccata follows, carrying forward a similar mood, but with an American accent. Glittering miniatures by Lecuona and Shostakovich are heard next, and then there is a brief return to serious fare with Benjamin Britten's dramatic Introduction and Rondo alla Burlesca. To finish out the program, Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue is heard in all its cosmopolitan glory, and while this interpretation has a bit more tempo rubato to it than some might be used to in the work, it is a very colorful and persuasive performance.
Rhapsody runs a little over an hour, but seems to go by lickety-split, as the running order of the program is so well considered. Recorded at Ann Arbor's Solid Sound, Inc., the sound of the disc is warm and full-bodied, and Macks play two well-matched Steinways that are in good repair. Many self-produced classical recordings achieve considerably less happy results than this, and it is to the Macks' credit that they can get together such a superb quality product on their own. Once Rhapsody has ended, most listeners will want to start it over, rather than return it to its spot on the shelf, such is the charm and power of the Mack Sisters' artistry.