"Genesis for two grand piano’s is an ingenious and thoughtful project delivered in a virtuosic style reminiscent in places of Stravinsky´s work for two piano’s".
"It seems as if classical hands have firmly grasped the torch of originally lit by a rock band who often looked to music’s roots in the first place. Genesis´ largely keyboard based tunes are cleverly reduced to their constituent parts most effectively to my mind and in some cases have only gained in this unique interpretation".
Who am I to disagree with such a respected big shot of the symphonic rock scene and in some cases the co-writer of the songs on the album under consideration. Genesis for two grand piano’s is a project of two piano players who present on this album their piano duet interpretations of seven songs of one the greatest symphonic rock bands of the 20th century, Genesis. They dedicate this album to Tony Banks, one of the founders of Genesis, keyboard player with this band and (co-) writer of all the songs on this album. The aforementioned liner-notes are from former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett.
I certainly agree with him that the two pianists do a good job on this album. Especially because they not only covered the more keyboards oriented songs of Genesis but also songs that in the original version were performed by a broad palette of instruments, like opener "The Fountain of Salmacis". Not only do they play their interpretation very well, but they also wrote first class arrangements. All the moods that come by in this song are still recognizable.
A beautiful song like "Mad man moon" is, as Steve Hackett already wrote, perhaps even stronger in the sole piano version on this album. Very clever how the second piano plays around the melody played by the first one. The third track "Can-utility and the coastliners" also commences very beautiful, but in the second half (a beautiful instrumental part in the original version) I would have preferred more dynamics, to better recreate the different atmospheres and distinguish the solo melody from the accompaniment. The long fourth track "One for the vine" is also very good interpreted by Yngve Guddal and Roger T. Matte, but here also the originally instrumental parts are perhaps a little "heavy" for those who are no familiar with the original version, because of the dominating bass notes. This also applies to track 5 "Down and out" and track 6 "Duke´s travels", originally also "total band" songs, which shows that it’s not simple to recreate this type of songs solely with two piano’s. Track 5 is probably the least successful cover of this album, because it sounds rather uneasily. Perhaps lovers of the piano works of Stravinsky, as mentioned by Steve Hackett, can deal better with this kind of arrangements. "Evidence of autumn" is again a beauty in the vein of "Mad man moon" and "One for the vine" and a good choice as closing track.
All in all an interesting album, especially for people who are familiar with the original songs I guess, but probably also for the lovers of modern classics such as Stravinsky. Perhaps the album would have been more original and "progressive" if the musicians had added something of their own. Now they actually followed the original song structure, with, apart from the ingenious arrangements, no further value added.