I dimly recall a Decca release in the early 1970s of Ashkenazy in the Rachmaninov Suite No 1 (Fantasie Tableau for two pianos, Op 5) with André Previn. I doubt whether it could have had more charm than this performance from Vladimir and his son Vovka.

The rapport between the two pianists is seemingly effortless in drawing the listener into this magical music. I particularly responded to the gentle swirling effects of the introductory barcarolle and to the alternating intensity and ravishing lyricism of the central two movements, La Nuit, L’Amour (“Night…Love”) and Les larmes, (“Tears”). Night on the Bald Mountain doesn’t have quite the same spellbinding quality. I found the staccato passages a little relentless, although there’s clearly no other way to play them. Glinka’s Valse-Fantasie lends itself perfectly to duo piano treatment. It could have been penned by Tchaikovsky at his most melancholy. 

Wonderful as they are, not even the spectacular virtuosity and chemistry of these two pianists can replicate the colour, glamour and visceral excitement of the orchestral version of Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances from Prince Igor. The Scriabin Fantasy in A Minor is somewhat more structured and less amorphous than so much of his output, described by a friend of mine as “marijuana music”. Not that I’d know anything about that!

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