Bartók & Babin: Piano Concertos

Album cover art for upc 761203500123
Label: CPO
Catalog: 555001-2
Format: CD

Todorov, Plamen; Paliev, Dobri; Kamdzhalov, Yordan; Piano Duo Genova & Dimitrov; Bulgarian National Radio Symphony Orchestra

Concertos for two pianos and orchestra by Felix Mendelssohn and Max Bruch belong to the standard German romantic repertoire for piano duos. Genova & Dimitrov have recorded them as well as the concertos of Francis Poulenc, Darius Milhaud, and Robert Casadesus. If until these composers the piano above all functioned to develop complex melodic and harmonic relations, then the Hungarian composer, pianist, folk music researcher, editor, and teacher Béla Bartók moved the piano or pianos closer to the percussion family. Here his Concerto for Two Pianos is presented along with the Concerto for Two Pianos by Victor Babin. This highly effective work, in its substance hardly needing to hide behind other classically inspired concertos of the twentieth century, is heard in a world-premiere recording. The American Victor Babin (Viktor Genrikhovich Babin), who died in 1972, made music history primarily as the member of a famous piano duo. With his wife this strapping, strong son from a Jewish Russian family formed the Vronsky & Babin Duo. Newsweek described it as the most brilliant piano duo of its time. Babin studied composition under Franz Schreker in Berlin and piano under Artur Schnabel. His Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra breathes a neoclassical spirit from the tradition of the Russian dynamo Stravinsky and even more so of Prokofiev, mixed with the mirthful and grotesque musical impact of a Shostakovich. Listeners may also detect Influences from the Groupe de Six. In this marvelously transparent score Victor Babin proves to be a dazzling instrumentator.

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