What is absent on this two CD set is affectation. Roberts plays these peices "straight," if you will, and that makes all the difference. What comes through is not so much a focus on Roberts, or on the piano as an instrument. What comes through is the music itself. The result is a pure and complete challenge to one's expectations of euphony. These recordings GREATLY exceeded my expectations, largely because prior to this my understanding of Hindemith was limited to my perception of his work as essentially a kind of country-fied avant garde (make sense?). Roberts' Hindemith rings in my ears like poetry, however. It sounds more human, less violent and experimental, and lacks the taint of egotism.
But the two-player tracks alone are worth the price. Strong's backup on the peices at the ends of each CD are wonderfully technical and complementary, opening up broad dimentions of sound dynamics. This isn't Frank and Dino time.
Two things to keep in mind about my thought for this review:
1) I think John McCabe a brilliant and intrepid post-tonalist piano composer (check out his Piano Music), but have yet to hear his recording of the Suite 1922 / Ludus Tonalis...
2) Glenn Gould (to my knowledge) never recorded the Ludus Tonalis. But he probably should have.