TRISTAN ON THE TILES – a major tip-off

Some years ago I chanced up a French EMI double CD album that featured the two-piano and solo recordings of pianists Jean Wiéner and Clément Doucet. It included Doucet’s deliciously camp – some would say outrageous – Isoldina (doesn’t the name give it away?), a sort of stride/foxtrot hybrid where the ecstatic climax of Isolde’s ‘Liebestod’ is thrown off like a flirtatious giggle. Over time I’ve scored many laughs with this track and recently, just by accident, I discovered that in 2013 EMI Classics released the complete Wiéner/Doucet legacy from the 1920s and 1930s on four cds (none of which plays for less than 79 minutes, 50999 72570326) where supporting artists include Maurice Chevalier; Jean, Mireille and Germaine Sablon, and Yvonne Vallée. Other classical masters ‘tweaked’ include Grieg, Liszt, Chopin, Dvorák, Johann Strauss and more Wagner. Gershwin is very well represented, as are Jerome Kern, and Cole Porter; there are even super-cool versions of Love for Sale and Saint Louis Blues played by Wiéner on the harpsichord – and a very musical ‘straight’ complete account of Mozart’s Sonata for two pianos K.448, plus Bach. But it’s the bravura and the panache of the playing that will have you hooked for hours, the mastery of rhythm and inner voices, smiles that are never forced (or worse still, patronising) and what sounds like the sheer joy of making music. And what style! The extensive booklet notes are in French only but you’ll find useful stuff on Wiki. The booklet also includes photos and comprehensive discographical information. I bought my set on line from Amazon at around £25.00

Here’s a sampling of Doucet’s way with Chopin and Wagner.

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