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Music from Tony Gould and David Ward-Steinman -
reviewed by

'... two players who specialise in shades of touch ...'

John Lewis: In Memoriam; Concert piece for two pianos; Martial Solal: Suite for two pianos. Tony Gould and David Ward-Steinman. © 2007 Helicon Records

As so many of our politicians wouldn't, I'll declare an interest in proceedings from the outset. Tony Gould, long a senior figure in Australian jazz, is a long-time colleague from the School of Music at the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne, where he finally became Head of School. David Ward-Steinman, an American pianist with as many academic honours as performance credits, has been a frequent visitor to Melbourne. Many years ago I had the pleasure in being in an edge-of-the-seat performance of Bartok's Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion with him. Obviously I'm favourably disposed to the performers on this album, so what of the music itself?

The disc is headlined by John Lewis's concert piece for two pianos, In Memoriam. Given that all the music on this disc is only part-composed, leaving plenty of space for improvisation, one has to be careful about where one throws the brickbats and bouquets, but I found this piece to be stretching beyond its own means.

Listen -- John Lewis: In Memoriam Part I (track 10, 4:20-5:22)
© 2007 Helicon Records

After a rather lugubrious opening, Gould (soloing in the first movement) stretches out a bit and exploits piano sonorities, but it is really not until the second movement (a duet) where we have a typically bouncy Lewis tune in which to found things that the interest level rose. Things finally start cooking at track 11, 6:12 to give an almost 'camp meeting' feel to it, but this is late in the day and overall I had the impression that 'serious' development was trying to be done on material that was too slight to take it.

Listen -- John Lewis: In Memoriam Part II (track 11, 6:12-7:16)
© 2007 Helicon Records

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Copyright © 3 April 2008 Paul Sarcich, London UK


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