Cape Town (South Africa)
Bulgarian Piano Duo Impresses With Technique And Ensemble Playing
MUSIC RECITAL: The Genova and Dimitrov Piano Duo performing for the the Cape Town Concert Series. In the Baxer Concert Hall, Rondebosch.
The closing work on this well-known Bulgarian duo?s programme was the Fantasy on Gershwin?s Porgy and Bess by Percy Grainger. I did have my doubts about the inclusion of this work, but Grainger?s arrangement for two pianos of this so-called Negro opera is interesting to listen to indeed. Born in Australia in 1882, Grainger made name for himself as an international pianist.
He was extremely eccentric with, among other things, a strong believe in racial purity and a repugnance against the piano. Nevertheless, he composed three volumes of piano music under the title Dished up for Piano. This includes diverse arrangements ranging from folk songs to Richard Strauss? opera, Der Rosenkavalier.
After Aglika Genova and Liubin Dimitrov?s virtuoso rendition of the Porgy and Bess Fantasy it was clear why a famous composer such as Benjamin Britten regarded Grainger as a master arranger. The gruelling technical expertise demanded from both pianists safeguard the work against incompetent performers.
This excellent technique is the reason why the other works on the programme also sounded unsurpassable.
First it was Brahms? Variations on a Theme by Haydn, op. 56B, written by Brahms himself for two pianos. His orchestral rendition with the opus number 56A is better known than the two piano version, and one got used to its rich orchestral colours. But I did enjoy the performance of it on Saturday. There was a tranquility in the playing with just enough silence between some variations to avoid an agitated atmosphere. The necessary grace and charm of variation 7 were beautifully captured, and contrasted strikingly with the brilliance and vigour of the other variations.
Rachmaninov?s Second Suite for Two Pianos, op. 17, with its luscious melodies and virtuosity, is popular. Here the superior ensemble playing of the two pianists was exceptionally impressive. The same applies to the Rapsodie Espagnole by Ravel which was performed in the second half of the concert. The numerous passages where the music gradually slows down, or accelerates, were impeccably together. Also the changes in texture and intensity of sound were planned in detail, and executed exactly the same by the pianists. The mysterious and suspense-filled opening of the Ravel was nearly as atmospheric as the orchestral version.
There were moments in the Duettino Concertante by Busoni, which is based on the finale of Mozart?s Piano Concerto in F Major K.459, where the performers obtained a very light, almost transparent texture.
At the end the audience thanked the duo with a standing and warm ovation. Pieter Kooij
Stellenbosch (South Africa)
Doors Open At Symposium
The true treasure of the Stellenbosch International Piano Symposium recitals was the playing of the Genova & Dimitrov Piano Duo. For an earlier recital they have already been reviewed in Die Burger, but I have to mention that their Rapsodie Espagnole by Ravel was one of the most phenomenal performances I have heard recently. Their acute attuning to each other and the precious sound world created, is something to strive for. One could also compare their performance of Rachmaninov?s Suite no, 2 in C Minor, op. 17, with that of Schumann and Magalhaes the next evening. Both reditions were good, but the controlled playing of Genova and Dimitrov was striking.