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Splendidly played by Simon Callaghan and Hiroaki Takenouchi

MusicWeb International, John Quinn

This disc was issued in late 2018 to mark the 90th birthday of Thea Musgrave (born 27 May 1928). Lyrita has previously done this composer proud with a release devoted to several of her orchestral scores, albeit in performances set down in the 1970s, and also, more recently, a live performance from 1978 of her opera, Mary Queen of Scots (1977). The present recordings, however, are brand new and the works chosen are quite recent.

The longest offering is the song cycle Poets in Love. This consists of seventeen songs which are intended to be performed without a break. Musgrave selected a very wide range of poems in which the poets offer a variety of views and reflections on love. The chosen authors include Robert Burns, Goethe, Hölderlin, Rilke, Shakespeare, Shelley and Tasso. An interesting feature of the score is that with one exception each poem is set in its original language – though it is permissible for the singers to use English translations if necessary, though that’s not done here. So, the listener hears settings in seven languages: English, French, German, Italian, Latin, Russian and Spanish …

Eight of the songs are set as duets for the two singers and in one more, a setting of Goethe’s Zeitmass for baritone, the tenor joins in, singing several times the last line of the preceding poem. The other songs are solos for one or other of the singers. The vocal lines are lyrical and expressive and I found the way in which the poems are set was convincing …

The piano parts, splendidly played by Simon Callaghan and Hiroaki Takenouchi, are full of interest and incident.

Because the songs are intended to be performed as a seamless whole Lyrita don’t track them separately. However, they do break them into four groups, which is helpful, and each of these groups is allocated its own track.

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Sensitivity and panache

Fanfare Magazine, Jim Svejda

Excellent performances from the Parnassius Piano Duo

MusicWeb International, Jonathan Woolf

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.

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24/10/2020