Graham Rickson
May 2021

It’s Lewis/Osborne on the cover but Osborne/Lewis on the spine, and no indication of who’s playing which part in which piece. Is this the pianistic equivalent of 1970s disaster epic The Towering Inferno, where Steve McQueen and Paul Newman’s names were arranged diagonally on the credits so that both stars could claim to have top billing according to which way you read the letters? Not likely; you feel the rapport between Paul Lewis and Steven Osborne immediately, the 'Berceuse' from Fauré’s Dolly so beautifully coordinated. Phrasing, colour, rhythm; this is like hearing a four-handed pianist. This is a gorgeous collection, two deeply serious musicians in mostly relaxed mood. Works like Dolly and Debussy’s Petite Suite are deservedly popular, but deserve to be taken seriously. I’m always surprised by the harmonies in 'Le Jardin de Dolly' (Dolly being the daughter of singer Emma Bardac), and the fade out to the confusingly-titled 'Kitty-valse', probably the greatest musical dog portrait. They’re wonderfully handled here, Lewis and Osborne equally at home in Debussy’s Petite Suite, the accompanying chords in the little minuet sounding as if they’re being strummed. Don’t assume that this is an anthology of background music though; Poulenc’s Sonata for four hands has plenty of bite.

Debussy’s enigmatic Six épigraphes antiques are typically unsettling, piano duet arrangements of music originally composed for a recitation of faux-Greek poetry. Stravinsky’s Three easy pieces are fun, the first player doing the heavy lifting over effective but simple accompaniments. As a closer, the pair give us Ravel’s Ma mère l'Oye, 'Le jardin féerique' glowing. A lovely collection.