A lot is made of teamwork in the workplace, and you will not find a better case in point than a new album by two of Britain’s finest keyboard masters, Steven Osborne and Paul Lewis.
They have been busy collaborating in the studio during the lockdown and the result is an irresistible album of French piano duets with works by Fauré, Debussy, Ravel, Poulenc and Stravinsky.
Their previous partnership in 2010 on the Hyperion label featured works by Schubert, attracting rave reviews. Two major stars in their own right, they manage to hold their individual egos in check to create a seamless whole. It’s impossible to tell who is playing what: music is the master here.
And what a delicious assortment! Starting off with Fauré’s Dolly, six pieces he wrote for his mistress Emma Bardac’s second child. The disc starts with the famous Berceuse – its rowing rhythm matched by the cover painting of two boaters on the Yerres river near Paris.
Bardac later married Debussy, who is represented here by gorgeous performances of two of his works – Six Épigraphes Antiques and the delightful Petite Suite. And you can’t have Debussy without Ravel, so another work for children, Ma Mère l’Oye, closes the disc.
More piquant are the Three Easy Pieces that Stravinsky wrote for his sons while working on Les Noces, and the urgent opening of Poulenc’s Sonata for Piano Four Hands demands that you sit up straight in your chair. This album is a perfect gift for anyone, young or old.
Title: French Piano Duets
Works: Music by Fauré, Debussy, Ravel, Poulenc and Stravinsky
Performers: Paul Lewis p, Steven Osborne p
Label: Hyperion CDA68329