FRENCH DUETS

PAUL LEWIS ● STEVEN OSBORNE  

Hyperion CDA68329 [68’28]

This is a critically acclaimed album of five impeccably played pieces by a pair of princes of the piano.  They are long-playing duo partners: Paul Lewis (born 1972) is from Liverpool and a recipient of a CBE for services to music, and Steven Osborne (born 1971) is Scottish and a celebrated performer of Gallic music with 29 Hyperion releases in 21 years to his credit.

All the works are often connected with childhood.  The opening Berceuse from Fauré’s ‘Dolly Suite’ will be familiar to those who remember BBC radio’s ‘Listen with Mother’ (1950-82).  Then there is another tuneful work, Debussy’s ‘Petite Suite’ (including En Bateau (On a Boat) that can also be found on the Avid album ‘Lovers Love London: The Music of Robert Farnon’ AV HN 101) and, the longest work, his ‘Six épigraphes antiques’; also, two short ‘fun’ items by Poulenc (Sonata for four hands) and Stravinsky (Three easy pieces).   

Last on the disc is Ravel’s ‘Ma Mere l’Oye’ (‘Mother Goose’), originally written for two children as a five-movement piano duet a year before the orchestral ballet version of 1911, and referred to in Roger Nichols booklet notes as a “masterpiece”. 

Unless it is just there being two of them, the significance of ‘Boaters rowing on the Yerres’ as the cover illustration fails me.

The praise heaped on this enjoyable well recorded release and its duettists is undoubtably deserved, and it surely is destined to finish as one of the year’s best CDs.

 © Peter Burt 2021

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