Scott Brothers Duo
CD REVIEWS

DUOS FOR PIANO & ORGAN - SCOTT BROTHERS DUO
- SBDRCD001

Duos For Piano & Organ


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Publication: Organists’ Review
Date: February 2008
Reviewer: Nicholas Johnson
*EDITOR’S CHOICE*

Duos for Piano & Organ - Scott Brothers Duo - SBRDCD001

For many the whole issue of the orchestral transcription is a personal one. This recording brings to life that more unusual genre of transcription, the piano and organ duo: and does so with immense success. Nowadays this combination is quite a rarity, but the Scott brothers have been busy putting his right, playing to audiences across Europe. The instrumental combination had been popular in former times, with such composers as Flor Peeters and Marcel Dupré, whose compositions are included here.

Many tracks are arrangements by Jonathan Scott, the organist here, of famous 19th-century orchestral works, and full marks to him for his imaginative arrangements throughout. The exceptions are the Flor Peeters and Dupré, the former’s concerto being the high-point of this disc for me in many ways. The history of this concerto is given in the CD booklet, well presented and informative.

The recording quality is excellent, and the disc is produced and recorded by the Scott brothers. The full tonal palette of the Bridgewater Hall’s organ is captured, blending superbly with the piano. Tom Scott’s piano playing is often breathtakingly fluid and effortless, and there are many occasions when he almost ’steals the show’, but this can be the nature of the arrangements: Jonathan’s playing is always very exciting, even when providing he role of accompaniment.

Among my other favourites must be the Gluck Mélodie, which is exquisite, arranged to allow both instruments to partake of the lyrical melody. Saint-Saëns’ The Swan shows tremendous musicianship and is a superb example of the way in which the duo works together.I cannot recommend this disc highly enough. Even the most purist among you will surely raise a wry smile during The Carnival of the Animals, and indeed the Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody No.2, which concludes with great panache a most stirring and enjoyable programme.

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Publication: THE SYDNEY ORGAN JOURNAL
Date: Vol. 41, No.1. SUMMER 2009-2010 (December-February)
Reviewer: Daniel Mitterdorfer

Duos for Piano & Organ - Scott Brothers Duo - SBRDCD001

From the first three chords that open the Overture from Die Fledermaus, I was bowled over with the brilliant technical skill and ingenuity of these two young brothers from Manchester. Both studied piano at Chetham’s School of Music and later at the Royal Northern College of Music, with Tom going on to read Music and Jonathan furthering his studies in the Netherlands and USA.

It is clear that their studies have prepared them well; Jonathan’s arrangements show a profound understanding of orchestration and the works make the transition to the organ and piano duo very much in tact. The choice of repertoire in this recording gives the Manchester organ ample opportunity to shine also. Although not one of my favourite house-styles, the Marcussen organ doesn’t overpower the piano, but one has the sense of it being a tad on the shrill side at times. The technical facility possessed by these two is nothing short of astounding, with great handfuls of notes in arpeggia flying from both performers on occasion, and at other times silky legato and knife-edge precision in note placement.

The Fledermaus Overture and the Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 are the standouts of the transcriptions on this recording, and of the two original works, Flor Peeters’ Concerto for Piano and Organ, the Arioso, a gorgeous nocturne and Finale, a tour-de-force for both parties that leaves one literally on the edge of your seat. The movements from Saint-SaÎns’s Carnival of the Animals prove a good foil for the harmonically at times less-straightforward DuprÈ Variations, whose beguiling 5/4 fugue in the closing pages would be enough to daunt even the most polished and able of performers.

I wholeheartedly recommend this disc to anyone that loves the piano and organ combination (something of a rarity these days), or transcriptions in general.

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Publication: THE ORGAN
Date: February 2008
Reviewer: David Alker

Duos for Piano & Organ - Scott Brothers Duo - SBRDCD001

Here is a venture into a sound that many may not have heard in combination before or in a long time. Indeed the enterprising and highly gifted Scott brothers, Jonathan and Tom, bring a fabulous recording of bonbons surrounding more substantial items written for the two instruments. The recital was recorded using the magnificent Marcussen Organ (1996) at Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall together with its equally resplendent Steinway piano. The mordent percussiveness of the piano etching a relief against the wind driven timbres of the organ bring a vivid yet beguiling combination of sound, each weaving their individual colours around the Bridgewater Hall.

The Duo open the programme with Johann Strauss II’s Die Fledermaus Overture, arranged by Jonathan Scott, followed by the lovely and lilting Pastorale, Op. 26 of Guilmant, also arranged by Jonathan. Flor Peeters’ Concerto for Organ and Piano Op. 74, brings a more serious side to the issue, even though Peeters wrote it for his fiftieth birthday in 1953, there is no perception of levity to reflect this celebration; however it does prove to be a remarkable piece and its gestures are as grand as they are dramatic.

The Scotts swing back the pendulum to The Swan and Finale from Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals, lightening the musical muscle amassed in the previous work. The second original work is the Variations on Two Themes Op. 35 by Marcel Dupré, this being the second of three such works he wrote for this combination; again we find a fine performance of this fascinating work. The pair end their recital with two further arrangements by Jonathan. Mélodie is from Act 2, Scene 2 of Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice, one of the movements from the ’Dance of the Blessed Spirits’ ballet and, a show stopper if ever there was one, Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No.2. The brothers bring splendid performances upon their chosen instruments, each complementing one another with their superb keyboard skills. A great treat!

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Publication: MUSIC WEB INTERNATIONAL
Date: 20 JUNE 2008
Reviewer: Jonathan Woolf

Duos for Piano & Organ - Scott Brothers Duo - SBRDCD001

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I saw the programme for this recital of duos for piano and organ. Certainly the Dupré and Peeters looked enticing but there seemed to be some programmatic flim flam along the way – The Swan and the Gluck Melodie? Happily my fears were soon dispelled because this is a terrific disc from two young brothers, recorded in the resplendent acoustic of the Bridgewater Hall, Manchester.

The Fledermaus Overture is arranged by Jonathan Scott and gets the recital off to a suitably galvanizing start. Fortunately the vital matter of just balance between the two instruments has been well managed and if there’s a whiff of the Municipal Gardens, Bournemouth, circa 1928 about it all, well that’s not necessarily a bad thing in my book. The Guilmant soon heads things into a more decisive direction. The Pastoral dates from 1870 and was originally written for harmonium and piano, later being transcribed for the present forces and here further arranged for the organ pedals and piano by Jonathan Scott. This might seem a convoluted genesis for so essentially warmly lyric a work but when the results are as beautiful as this why complain?

Flor Peeters’s Concerto is full of neo-classical vitality and sparkling colour in its outer movements, played with freshness and ardour by the young Scott brothers. The central Arioso is a melodic paradise and equally verdant in its pleasures. Marcel Dupré wrote his Variations on Two Themes in 1935. He was certainly precocious in many ways but surely the notes mean that he studied with Guilmant in 1898 not 1888, when the mite would have been two years old. The Variations are brilliantly intricate and arrayed, complex and textually rich – a deeply rewarding piece of music, played with equal intelligence and control.

As for the ubiquitous Swan it’s actually not so bad; the Gluck Melodie is rather better. Jonathan Scott notes that his own arrangement was inspired by such other versions as those by Rachmaninoff and Heifetz, taking a “non historical” approach. The recital ends with Liszt’s pile driving Hungarian Rhapsody No.2 in another Jonathan Scot arrangement. Once again this has a rather inter-war feel to it, a bit sepulchral and Bela Lugosi-like, but it’s certainly interesting to hear these young musicians’ versatile take on it.

I commented briefly earlier on the excellent recorded quality. There’s a colourful booklet in the open-out card housing the disc. The disc is released on the brothers’ own label – they’ve made a fine start with this engaging and balanced recital.


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