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Undoubtedly the 'find' of the album is the Suite for Two Pianos by the veteran French jazz pianist, Martial Solal, like the Lewis piece unrecorded till now. But unlike the Lewis this is brimming with ideas, is eccentric and imaginative, and simply won't let you guess what is going to come next. Opening with modernistic gestures and progressing to a cheekily simple riff figure, a swinging development takes off, Gould and Ward-Steinman hitting their stride together for the first time on the disc.

Listen -- Martial Solal: Suite for two pianos: one (track 2, 1:01-2:02)
© 2007 Helicon Records

The second movement opens with a long balladic exploration, which lulls us into thinking 'oh, a slow second movement' before being interrupted once, then more surprisingly again with a piece of almost flippant French cheek, somewhat Offenbachish in inspiration.

Listen -- Martial Solal: Suite for two pianos: two (track 3, 7:46-8:57)
© 2007 Helicon Records

The moody, somewhat filmic opening of the third movement finds plucked string sounds being incorporated and the air of a slightly demented music box being produced, before a stuttering whole-tone section gives way finally to an almost folk-like tune over a drone -- shades of Milhaud, Poulenc or even Bizet -- before returning to the opening riff of the piece.

Listen -- Martial Solal: Suite for two pianos: three (track 4, 2:26-3:27)
© 2007 Helicon Records

There is much more in the way of solid structure to this suite than the Lewis, while allowing the pianists ample room to stretch. A little gem -- duo pianists should snap it up, but Gould and Ward-Steinman have set a standard to follow. Their playing here makes one want to hear the piece orchestrated, and I mean that as the greatest possible compliment.

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Copyright © 3 April 2008 Paul Sarcich, London UK


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