VLADIMIR & VOVKA ASHKENAZY Music for two pianos 4781090
Magnificent performances by father and son of much beautiful and thoughtful expressionism. They play, among other gems, Debussy¿s music for his ballet Jeux. But listen, too, to the colour and pace of Feria from Ravel¿s Rhapsodie Espagnole.
. . . he certainly plays with love here. Harnessed to their Steinways, father and son display exceptionally close rapport, thinking and breathing as one in music that requires almost inhuman co-ordination to do its magic full justice. No note is out of place, no texture muddy. They¿re at their very best in Ravel¿s "La Valse" transcription and the "Feria finale" of "Rapsodie espagnole", where they spray the listener with kaleidoscopic textures and modulate dynamics with the punch of master dramatists. In their four hands, the mad whirl of "La Valse" is so powerful, disturbingly so, that we never mourn the orchestra¿s absence . . . [Debussy¿s "Jeux"]: This two-piano "Jeux" shouldn¿t be seen as an inferior copy of the original; it¿s simply a triumph of a different stripe . . . [Ravel¿s "Entre cloches"]: extraordinarily vivid in this recording, and the teasing exotic games of Debussy¿s relatively obscure Lindaraja. Pleasure almost everywhere you look.
Father and son join forces here with winning élan. Vladimir Ashkenazy is one of the great pianists of modern times, with a legacy of landmark solo and concerto recordings to challenge anybody¿s. His son Vovka has inherited the genes . . . one of the Debussy works is especially interesting . . . [Debussy¿ s "Jeux"]: it is as perceptive as it is effective. If you know the orchestral score, you can hear -- or at least conjure up -- the spectrum of colours; if not, you can marvel at the way Bavouzet creates genuine two-piano music, requiring close rapport and spontaneity and also embracing the music¿s heady, scintillating atmosphere, to which the Ashkenazys respond tellingly. "En blanc et noir" and the Spanish-inflected "Lindaraja" complete the Debussy part of the disc, with the sultry mystique and vigour of Ravel¿s "Rapsodie espagnole" delivered with panache, and "La Valse" played with romantic subtlety and exciting, dynamic fervour.
. . . a feast of "orchestral" colours from their two pianos . . . Sometimes the orchestral illusions are quite uncanny. Uncanny, too, is the three-dimensionality of the sonorities. One "hears" the depth, experiences the music spatially . . . A particularly entrancing feature of this recital is Jean-Efflam Bavouzet's extremely resourceful arrangement of "Jeux" . . . This is a disc that should captivate even those not normally drawn to the duo-piano medium.
. . . there is much to enjoy, for they are clearly having much fun, especially in "Rapsodie espagnol", drawing a wide range of colour, and some wonderfully delicate shading.
The Ashkenazy sound suits this lush, delicately textured music well . . . It is not easy to differentiate between the pianists on this recording, which can be taken as a high compliment to Vovka Ashkenazy. They achieve a high level of clarity and precise coordination, just the ticket for a four-hand piano recital. The closer, "La valse" is no less controlled . . .
. . . the highlight is "Entre cloches" from Ravel's Sites auriculaires, a tintinnabulation that would satisfy even Rachmaninov, the two pianists revelling in Ravel's skilful layering of texture upon texture.
Obwohl den Interpreten allerhand Fingerfertigkeit abverlangt wird, rücken Ashkenzy "pare et fils" nicht die virtuose Brillanz in den Vordergrund. Ihnen geht es entschieden mehr um die subtileren Aspekte der klanglichen Nuance und der rhythmischen Raffinesse.
. . . il parcourt les pages les plus exigeantes [avec virtuosité] ¿ notamment la transcription (par Ravel) de la "Rhapsodie espagnole", dont la "Feria" est rendue avec une frénésie étourdissante. Dans le même style, scintillant et dynamique, "La Valse" est superbement enlevée. Père et fils s'amusent allègrement avec les jeux de sonorité d'"Entre cloches" ¿ on ne résiste pas à l'appel de ces volées-là! La partie consacrée à Debussy ne manque pas non plus de réussites . . . on découvre une transcription de "Jeux" . . . Les Ashkenazy abordent cette superbe transcription avec autant de subtilité que de virtuosité . . .