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Excellent performances from the Parnassius Piano Duo

MusicWeb International, Jonathan Woolf

Percy Sherwood is coming in from the shadows. His Double Concerto, Piano Concertos and Cello works have been recorded and now it’s the turn of Lyrita to promote and premiere on disc his two-piano works, the Suite and the Sonata. Both have been edited by Hiroaki Takenouchi (one of the pianists here, along with Simon Callaghan) from manuscripts held by the Bodleian Library and have recently been published, for the first time, by Nimbus Music Publishing.

The Suite for two pianos was first known to have been performed in 1902 in Dresden. It’s very clearly intended for domestic rather than public music-making and is cast in five movements …. Sherwood’s influences in this work are decidedly Classical, though Schubert is certainly the influence in the powerful central Romanze and Mendelssohn haunts the succeeding Scherzo.

The Sonata for two pianos is a slightly earlier work dating from 1896, though several movements had been more or less successfully completed in 1890. Its manuscript too is held by the Bodleian. The opening movement of this orthodox four-movement piece is in traditional sonata form and here the more contemporary influence of Brahms can be felt. It’s an altogether more serious and more commanding work than the easy-going Suite, as befits its sonata status ….

Whilst both of Sherwood’s pieces are new to disc, Parry’s Grosses Duo has been recorded before. It was written when he was around 27 and whilst it reveals the influence of Bach it’s not a neo-Baroque work, much less a pastiche, though Parry whips up the saturated organ sonorities with youthful relish at the end of the opening movement to suitably ripe effect. The central movement is very different, inhabiting the world of Romanticism and, like Sherwood’s Sonata, more reflective of the contemporary influence of Brahms, before returning in the finale to the Bachian ethos with a prelude and fugue. This was Parry’s only two-piano work.

This accomplished disc, graced by excellent performances from the Parnassius Piano Duo, brings two premiere recordings and a little-known Parry work to wide prominence.

With fine notes and a recording to match, there’s nothing to dislike here and much to admire.

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Wonderful performances … the playing here is top notch

MusicWeb International, Rob Challinor

Sensitivity and panache

Fanfare Magazine, Jim Svejda

Splendidly played by Simon Callaghan and Hiroaki Takenouchi

MusicWeb International, John Quinn

Parnassius Piano Duo - Simon Callaghan And Hiroaki Takenouchi
An exciting performance, notable for the range of colour which the two brought to the piece

Planet Hugill,  Robert Hugill 

Utterly Convincing Account

MusicWeb International, Nick Barnard

“…fine performances of often elusive music… Callaghan and Takenouchi really do give an utterly convincing account… a magnificent recital”

Another highly successful and rewarding endeavour for Callaghan and Takenouchi

International Record Review, Mark Tanner

I had the pleasure of reviewing the first instalment of Simon Callaghan’s and Hiroaki Takenouchi’s Delius transcriptions for two pianos in June 2012 and commented upon a ‘sparkling and sincere treatment’ of ‘La Calinda’ (from Koanga,  arranged by Joan Trimble) . The disc really captured the colours and timbres of Delius’s multifaceted style, so it was with great anticipation that I peeled off the cellophane from Volume 2.

As with the first disc, the recording was made in 2011 in the Adrian Boult Hall, Birmingham Conservatoire, and as before, was impressed by the quality of the sound captured by Somm.

Love, Panache and Exact Synchronisation – 4 Stars
BBC Music Magazine, Geoff Brown
Arnold Schoenberg famously proposed that good music was music that remained good even when transcribed for the zither. Zither arrangements of Delius are unlikely to happen, though his orchestral music – rhapsodic, ecstatic, often coloured in half-lights – has proved unusually susceptible to conversion for two pianos. In this first of Somm’s enterprising two-part survey, it helps that the acoustic and spatial spread are so vivid: the Steinway concert grands seem right in your living room, lending new clarity to textures and nuances sometimes mislaid in the  orchestral haze. It also helps that Simon Callaghan and Hiroaki Takenouchi, first teamed together at London’s Royal College of Music, play with such love, panache, and exact synchronisation.
The skill of these arrangements varies. Most utilitarian is Rudolf Schmidt-Wunstorf’s On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring which gives us the visible bones but no flesh, no spirit. Delius’s own contemporaries buckle to the task with greater understanding. Percy Grainger’s own piano panache enlivens his treatment of the Dance Rhapsody; Philip Heseltine’s Brigg Fair shimmers with magic at the start; and if the rarely encountered  Poem of Life and Love stays structurally indigestible Balfour Gardiner and Eric Fenby’s distillation still reveals many riches.

Roll on volume two!

Collective spirit for addressing the knotty musical priorities

International Record Review, Mark Tanner

Frederick Delius’s orchestral music abounds in colour and vividness of effect. During 2012 there will doubtless be numerous commemorative ventures marking the 150 years since the composer’s birth, but Delius’s music all too easily slips through the net. It permeates the senses in ways not quite emulated by his British contemporaries, although needless to say there are common threads and priorities to notice; the fact that Delius spent well over half of his life in France means that he picked up an enormous wealth of influences along the way. All the more so given that, at the age of 22, he moved to Florida to cultivate oranges before moving to Virginia, where he found his feet as a music teacher.

Back To Top 15/04/2021