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CD Spotlight

Peking order

Bartók, Bernstein and Gershwin from the Pekinel Sisters -
reviewed by
HOWARD SMITH

'... positively 'aerodynamic' in its clarity, audacity and panache.'

Bernstein - Gershwin - Bartok - Guher and Suher Pekinel. © 1998 Teldec Classics, 2005 Warner Classics

Britain's wartime music scene was enlivened with a healthy number of piano duos -- among them Rawicz and Landauer, The Trimble Sisters, York Bowen and Harry Isaacs, and legendary 3-handed partnership, Cyril Smith and Phyllis Sellick.

Since those days four-handed teams have popped up all over the place; Mayumi Kameda and Jean Jacques Balet, the Kontarsky Brothers, Bracha Eden and Alexander Tamir, the ill-fated Duo Crommelynck, Katia and Marielle Labèque and here Güher and Süher Pekinel, identical twin sisters discovered by Herbert von Karajan in 1984.

The Turkish-born Pekinels explore a comprehensive repertoire from J C Bach and J S Bach (with Jacques Loussier), to the diversity of Granados, Poulenc, Lutoslawski, Dutilleux  and all the usual suspects. Here their dazzling, symbiotic artistry is heard to perfection in Bernstein's Symphonic Dances from West Side Story [listen -- track 1, 9:25-10:44].

Paul McKibbins and Robert Philipps reduced the popular dances from their orchestral original while under Bernstein's watchful supervision and the result retains all the disquiet and menace of New York's territorial gangs -- early 1960s style. The selected dances reduce this score (nine sections) to 20 minutes; not one jot of which is lacking in either propulsive excitement or heart-stopping lovers' yearning.

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Copyright © 24 January 2006 Howard Smith, Masterton, New Zealand

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