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January/February 2008

Dick Hyman/Chris Hopkins
Teddy Wilson in 4 Hands
Victoria

I hereby cop that piano duos annoy me. Something seems wrong about the format—like a basketball game with two basketballs. (Granted, many pianists find it fun. Perhaps basketball players occasionally find it amusing to play with two balls—in games that don’t count.)

Then there is the corniness factor. When asking current listeners to get with old songs played in vintage swing and stride styles, oom-pahs from an extra pianist in the left channel don’t help. The best places to start on this album are the solo performances, where it is easier to perceive the timelessness of Dick Hyman’s formal elegance (“I’ll Never Be the Same”), and the poise of Chris Hopkins’ legato refinement (“These Foolish Things”).

All 17 tracks here are songs that Teddy Wilson wrote or played. Hyman and Hopkins interpret obscurities (“Diga Diga Doo”) and iconic classics (“Oh, Lady Be Good”) with vivacity, impeccable musicianship, historical authenticity and synchronization like a Porsche gearbox.

Care was taken with the generous liner notes. There are heartfelt Teddy Wilson stories from Hyman, who studied with him. Care was no doubt also taken with the sound, although the recording, made in a church in Boswil, Switzerland, probably with simple miking, puts both pianos too far away.

Originally published in January/February 2008
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