Steven E. Ritter
American Record Guide
, December 2000
"With the exception of the masterly Sonata for horn, trumpet, and trombone, we are dealing with duos of one sort or another. Of much interest is the music for two pianos. The Sonata is of course one of the grand works of the two-piano repertory. Built around one of the fine slow movements ever composed, it remains one of the most 'serious' works Poulenc penned, a conversational piece of the utmost skill and integrity. Our pianists like master builders, careful not to step on one another's toes. I cannot recall hearing a more satisfying version of this seminal work.
"Samuel Barber was the dedicatee of the Capriccio d'après Le Bal Masque; another fairly late work that embodies all of the wistful, prismatic coloring that Poulenc was capable of. The poignant Elegie for two pianos was dedicated to a great patroness of the arts, Princess Marie-Blanche de Polignac. A footnote in the score proves illuminating as to the temperament of the work: 'Play this elegie as if improvising, a cigar in your mouth and a glass of cognac on the piano. All the offbeat rhythms must scarcely be touched. On the whole, too much pedal must not be used.'- To Poulenc, a cigar and cognac while meditating on a lost friend was the best tribute.
"The short L'ebarquement pour Cythere is culled from a two-piano score Poulenc wrote for a film. It is light and pleasant, an engaging divertissement. The Sonata for piano duet retains all the marks of youth-steely, uncompromising, yet seeded with the germs of growth that would later blossom into full-fledged Poulenc. The composer is always concerned with the understanablity of his music; hence his general avoidance of long pieces for solo instruments.
"The sonatas for two clarinets and bassoon and clarinet are early, minor jewels that hold your attention and prove a delightful entertainment. Our young wind layers are well matched to the challenge at hand, not too syrupy or sentimental (though Poulenc is always trying to cloak his sentiment), but just the right amount of brashness and seductive toying to make us wink right back at him
"The Sonata for horn, trumpet, and trombone is a fairly mature, novel, exciting work that gets an A+ performance here. Did I mention the sonics? Naxos has found a way to get the sheet-metal edge off their sound. This is excellent-warm, cozy, and digitally clean."