Much like Schubert drew inspiration from his arranger and sometimes duet partner, Josef von Gahy, the husband and wife duo of Claire Aebersold and Ralph Neiweem have been performing with one another for more than 25 years, indefatigably promoting the little-heralded piano duo genre. The two have provided masterful work in the past and Schubert Four-Hand Piano Works Vol. 1 is no exception. Of particular note is the opening track, the so-called “Friendship” Rondo in D Major. Schubert was only 20 when he wrote this piece and, in some sense it shows, the work is incredibly sentimental — full of cloying stops and starts. But in Aebersold and Neiweem's hands, the Rondo is playful and charming (think a buttoned-up “Dueling Banjos”). It's a unique glimpse at a young composer finding his feet and an experienced duo reveling in his naïve optimism.
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