Piano Duet Music of Marie Jaëll and Jane Savage — Rarest of the Rare

Consider the body of piano literature. Piano duet music makes up a small percentage of that literature. And piano duet music by female composers an even smaller percentage of that.

This release presents piano duets by two female composers who deserve greater exposure. Marie Jaëll’s music makes up the bulk of the album. 

Jaëll was an important French pianist and pedagogue, as well as a composer. Her talent was great. Franz Liszt said she had “the brains of a philosopher and the fingers of an artist.” 

Most of her compositions were for piano. Her Opus 8 Waltzes for piano four-hands was one of her more popular works. These twelve little waltzes evoke elegance and refinement. 

“Voix du printemps” is a set of six vignettes evoking different aspects of spring. To my ears, they show a trace of Brahms (who Jaëll knew personally).

British composer Jane Savage is represented by “A Favorite Duet.” Savage was active in the late 1790s-early 1800s. Her duet is very much in the classical style, as spritely as Mozart with a bit of Thomas Arne thrown in. 

The Duo Korusa, Sujung Cho and Jacob Clark, give these works spirited readings. Their performance of the “Voix du printemps” I found especially beautiful.

Not so beautiful, though, is the recorded piano sound. There’s a little too much resonance for my taste. And there’s no ambiance. This gives the instrument a somewhat dull and slightly unnatural sound. 

Is it horrible? No. But it’s not the best-recorded piano I’ve heard. But this repertoire is so rare, I’m willing to get past the sound. And so should you.

Piano Duet Music of Marie Jaëll and Jane Savage
Duo Korusa
Centaur CRC 4006

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