Rimsky-Korsakov - Piano Duos - BBC Online

Nicolay Rimsky-Korsakov doesn't often get the recognition he deserves - not only as a composer of lasting influence but also as an imaginative and idiosyncratic orchestrator. This disc sees three of his symphonic scores ‘de-orchestrated': cast for two pianists in arrangements by Rimsky himself and his wife Nadezhda Nikolayevna.

Perhaps Pizarro's Iberian blood lets him under the skin of Rimsky's Hispanic homage - he and Panomariovaite (who has previously excelled in Spanish repertoire) play with far more drama and finesse; the texture of the [Capriccio Espagnol] Variazioni is smooth, whilst the tempos in Scena e canto gitano are controlled - ‘pulled up' and ‘let go' with flamenco-style panache. Rimsky himself said of the Capriccio at its first rehearsal that ‘it glitters with dazzling orchestral colour' and this arrangement captures such colour far more successfully.

In the middle is Nadezhda Nikolayevna's two-piano arrangement of Rimsky's twelve-minute ‘musical picture' Sadko. This is probably the better of the transcriptions, and the two pianists respond with a unity that shimmers through the work's opening seascape and dances through its accelerandos as if the four hands were of one body. A worthy performance of an accomplished work.

BBC Online
05 October 2007