DEBUSSY; RAVEL Piano Duets – Rogé
On a disc to delight even the most blasé Francophile, the husband-and-wife team of Pascal and Ami Rogé give us a mix of familiar and unfamiliar two-piano arrangements. Last but far from least on their programme is Saint-Saëns’s Scherzo, a scintillating rarity and more interesting than the composer’s largely disappointing works for solo keyboard. For Alfred Cortot, quoted in Jeremy Nicholas’s excellent notes, this is ‘a synthesis of Saint-Saëns’s special pianistic style’ (was he influenced by the first two of Fauré’s Valses-caprices, composed in 1883-84, four years before the Scherzo?) and it could hardly be played with a more impish delight in its tirelessly waltzing virtuosity.
The Rogés’ arrangement of Debussy’s La mer is so resourceful that you hardly regret the absence of orchestral colour and range, and in Ravel’s dazzling transcription of ‘Fêtes’ their playing seems to wing its way off the page. They are no less stylistically acute and affectionate in Ravel’s Rapsodie espagnole, where once more their poetic empathy is as complete in the mournful and insistent chime of the opening ‘Prelude’ as in their precision and brio in the concluding ‘Feria’. You won’t want to be without Argerich and Freire’s DG recording of Ravel’s Ma Mère l’Oye and Rapsodie espagnole in Peter Sadlo’s exotic arrangements but you could hardly better the Rogés’ presentation, finely recorded by Onyx.