David Hurwitz takes a look at a CD of Poulenc performed by Hélène Mercier and Louis Lortie.

The small pieces for multiple pianists added as encores–the tiny Sonata for Piano Four-Hands, Élégie for Two Pianos, and L’Embarquement pour Cythère–add to this disc’s attractions, but don’t change the fact that this coupling has been done before, and better. That distinction goes to Eric Le Sage on RCA. The Aubade offers the best performance–it usually does, but in the Piano Concerto Lortie and Gardner seem a bit embarrassed by the luscious first movement’s second subject. It’s just a touch rushed, and in the finale’s opera buffa tune the solo and the orchestra disagree on how to play the grace notes. Romance and charm remain in short supply.


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