These four piano duets were written in 1982 for my sons Mark and Justin, to whom they are also dedicated. The ‘pictures’ have no titles, intentionally so, as I wished the imagination of the children playing them to provide their own ‘pictures’ and titles for them. The first duet is quite rhetorical, the second is a slow waltz in the style of Satie, and the third is a short modal dance in the style of Bartok. The fourth piece is, however, the most extended, and is thoughtful and evocative in mood, with a simple ostinato on the note D providing the backdrop for the entire piece, whilst around it changing harmonic colourations give the piece its essential character.
Four Pictures were originally published by Oxford University Press, with numbers three and four published more recently by them in a volume entitled Piano Duets by Twentieth-Century British Composers. The copyright has now been returned to the composer.
The Four Pictures of 1982 blend a more acerbic modernism with charmingly innocent melodic interludes, a reminder that the pieces were composed for Gregson’s sons.
Pianodao, October 2020
This is user-friendly music that could find enormous popularity with many fledging young duos.
Murray McLachlan, International Piano, October 2020
The first piece exploits the sonorities available from two pianos; the music seems to suggest fanfares. McLachlan rightly describes the second piece as a “wistful slow waltz”; it’s charming. The third suggests to me a fast rustic dance. The final piece, the longest, is built round an incessant repetition of the note D, albeit at a variety of octaves, round which Gregson weaves gentle compound-time material; the effect is hypnotic.
John Quinn, MusicWeb International, March 2021
… suggestive of a composer thinking orchestrally and pianistically at the same time. The duet … exemplifies this charismatic trait wonderfully.
Mark Tanner, Piano Professional, April 2021