Russians revive a Vaughan Williams rarity

Russians revive a Vaughan Williams rarity


norman lebrecht

October 14, 2019

When do we ever get to hear RVW’s concerto for 2 pianos?

Here’s a cracking new performance from the National Philharmonic Orchestra of Russia with pianists Boris Berezovsky and Dmigtry Masleev.

It starts at 44:00


  • double-sharp says:

    So, no henchmen involved at all?

  • John Borstlap says:

    Curiously, the piece sounds quite Russian. It is a 2 piano version of a 1 piano concerto which required 3 hands.

  • Karl says:

    Many VW works deserve more performances. Only once have I heard his 8th Symphony in concert and I think it’s a great work. Thank you Maestro Bruce Hangen!

  • Timothy Ball says:

    But wasn’t the two piano version devised because the solo version was deemed too ‘difficult’?

    • Paul Pellay says:

      It was written for Harriet Cohen, I believe, who found it too much to handle. However, it hasn’t stopped the likes of Howard Shelley, Piers Lane and Ashley Wass from taking up the solo version very convincingly over the years. And more recently, Louis Lortie made history of a kind by becoming the first to record both versions of the work (the 2-piano version with Hélène Mercier).

    • Donald Hansen says:

      Yes. The solo piano version was performed by Harriet Cohen with Sir Adrian Boult conducting on Feb. 1, 1933. It was then suggested by Sir Adrian and others that, due to the difficulty, a better balance between piano and orchestra would be obtained if it was rearranged for two pianos. Joseph Cooper assisted in doing that, and that version was performed by Cyril Smith and Phyllis Sellick (husband & wife) on November 22, 1946.

  • double-sharp says:

    An excellent performance! Russian musicians are the best!

    Meantime, in Saudi Arabia, punishment seems appropriate for those who played the Russian national anthem for Putin’s visit…?

    Perhaps musical training could be the *first* item that Russia can offer the Sauds?

    • John Borstlap says:

      The Egyptians do it much better:

    • V.Lind says:

      Ouch. Probably the best national anthem in the world — this was butchery. Even Putin’s most savage critics — some of whom lurk around here — must have had some sympathy for him having to listen to that with a straight face. His usual expressionless stance came in useful there.

      • John Borstlap says:

        According to discrete sources at the Kremlin, the president practises two days before every state visit, listening to these recordings of Arabian and Egytian abuse, to be able to stand through the next musical ordeal.

  • Ralph says:

    Chandos has recorded both the double piano version and the single, both with Louis Lortie.