Robert and Linda Ang Stoodley play together by the French nickname of Piano à Deux. She is Singapore-born, Robert is as English as you can get, and together since they met on line and then married just a few years ago they make beautiful all-American music in this all-Gershwin CD, with several albums already in stock and more to come. Their website: http://www.pianoadeux.com
Their latest CD (dda25183) for Divine Art Recordings Group is cause for celebration. Terrific playing, of course, paired to smart program notes by Iain Sneddon, impeccable engineering by Oli Whitworth, Stephen Sutton’s album design.
The sheer delight that PORGY, PRELUDES & PARIS produces after not one but many hearings comes from a very idiomatic, very American, very cool, very laid-back, very down-to-earth, very unpretentious, very…Gershwin way of playing Gershwin.
There’s no grandstanding on the part of the Stoodleys when the big finishes loom around the corner, there’s no pretentiousness, nor is there any preciousness in their playing of the tunes of that most American of all American composers. They play with sheer joy and unabashed exuberance. When they need ersatz Viennese Schmaltz for By Strauss they can lay it on, and when the sweeping melodies of Porgy and Bess call for operatic opulence the Stoodley’s deliver in spades.
Gershwin had one foot planted on the Great White Way and the other on the big building at the corner of 57th and 7th in NYC. His music making evidenced this happy dichotomy made whole by his genius and the wisdom of Ravel who told the American fellow with big ideas to go back home with whatever he had learned and be himself. Which, in a way is what he did and what it is needed to play his music.
You cannot swing nor play stride piano unless you can counterbalance precision and meticulousness with an utterly relaxed approach to the keyboard. The Stoodleys have it all and Divine Art has a winning ticket with these two artists.
Rafael de Acha http://www.RafaelMusicNotes.com