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Lavrova Primakov Duo | Four Hand Recital | Milhaud, Czerny, Corigliano, Schubert





LAVROVA PRIMAKOV DUO | FOUR HAND RECITAL | MILHAUD, CZERNY, CORIGLIANO, SCHUBERT

Every recording project has its own story! This one had its seeds planted, almost literally, amidst beautifully wild and rugged nature and serene atmosphere. We were privileged enough to be invited in February of 2012 to Hill and Hollow Music, a retreat program in Saranac Valley of northern New York’s Adirondack Mountains. Performing primarily two-piano works at that time, we realized that this retreat would be the perfect setting to work intensely on building our four-hand repertoire. It is something we had been itching to do for months. With piles of music to explore in tow, we ventured out on the six-hour drive to Saranac. For a week, we shut ourselves off from the rest of the world in a beautiful cottage, with no cell phones, Internet or reminders of our daily lives. Read More….

What followed was an experience beyond our expectations, both professionally and personally. After the initial two days of reading through hours of music, the pieces that peaked our interest were not necessarily in the same style, but just as in nature, drastic differences achieve balance in mysterious and unpredictable ways. Inspired by the vastness and variety of our surroundings, we chose an unusual program: Milhaud’s satirical “Le Boeuf sur le toit,” Czerny’s virtuosic and rarely performed Grand Sonata in F Minor, John Corigliano’s fantastic “Gazebo Dances,” and one of Schubert’s greatest masterpieces, the Fantasie in F Minor. The joyful sunrises and dramatic sunsets, roaming wildlife, the magnificent mountains and the power of a blizzard that arrived on the day of our performance that ended our retreat, were all inspirations in compiling this record.

This truly unforgettable experience we owe to Angela Brown, Kellum Smith and their friends. These pieces will forever stay in our repertoire and will always reminds us of this incredible time that we spend at Hill and Hollow Music on the Weatherwatch Farm!


DARIUS MILHAUD (1892-1974): Le Boeuf Sur Le Toit (The Ox on the Roof: The Nothing Doing Bar)

Brazil and Brazilian music would occupy a very particular place in Milhaud’s “private universe” as a result of his 20-month stay in Rio as Embassy secretary to poet-diplomat Paul Claudel, in the period 1917-18. Some of his most famous works – L’Homme et son Desir (1918), Le Boeuf sur le Toit (1919), and Suadades do Brazil (1920) – remain as eloquent examples of the country’s lasting imprint on his music.
In France, in 1919 – the year following his return from Brazil – Milhaud composed the symphonic ballet Le Boeuf sur le Toit (The Ox on the Roof) in collaboration with Jean Cocteau, who provided the farcical script entitled “The Nothing Doing Bar.” The title Le Boeuf sur le Toit – which, due to the success of the ballet, would give its name to the legendary nightclub of the interwar period – has lent itself to many misunderstandings. Neither a fantasy name nor a folk tune, Le Boeuf sur le Toit is a translation of the title of one of the greatest hits of the 1918 Rio Carnival: the tango O boi no Telhado by Jose Monteiro publishing under the pseudonym “Ze Boiadero.”
His tune selections – which included 19th century pieces by composers Alexandre Levy (1864-1920) and Alberto Nepomuceno (1864-1920) – read like an anthology of Brazilian urban music in 1918-19. The majority of these pieces, most of which had already been identified as early as 1980 by Professor Aloysio de Alencar Pinto, were compositions by well-known popular musicians who wrote for the Rio and Sao Paulo equivalents of New York’s Tin-Pan Alley.
Le Boeuf sur le Toit, presented as a ballet at its Paris premiere at the Comedie des Champs-Elysees, in February 1920 - with Cocteau’s script and Raoul Dufy’s settings – was an immediate success, saw an early incorporation into the orchestral repertoire, and has since enjoyed great popularity. Milhaud’s transcriptions of the work include the present reduction for piano four hands. This work testifies of Milhaud’s admiration for those Brazilian “composers of tangos, maxixes, sambas and cateretes” who left an indelible imprint on his musical personality.

JOHN CORIGLIANO (b.1938): Gazebo Dances for Piano Four Hands (1972)

Gazebo Dances was originally written as a set of four-hand piano pieces dedicated to certain of my pianist friends. I later arranged the suite for orchestra and for concert band, and it is from the latter version that the title is drawn. The title, Gazebo Dances, was suggested by the pavilions often seen on village greens in towns throughout the countryside, where public band concerts are given on summer evenings. The delights of that sort of entertainment are portrayed in this set of dances, which begins with a Rossini-like Overture, followed by a rather peg-legged Waltz, a long-lined Adagio and a bouncy Tarantella. -- John Corigliano

CARL CZERNY (1791-1857): Grand Sonata for Piano Four Hands in F Minor, Op. 178

Phenomenally gifted as a pianist, Carl Czerny studied as a ten-year-old with Beethoven and made his first public appearance in Vienna in 1800, when he played Mozart's C minor Piano Concerto. Impressed as he was by the performance style of Mozart, heard through Mozart's pupil Hummel, he nevertheless became a leading exponent of the piano music of Beethoven, with its demands for a legato style suited to the newer forms of the instrument. Czerny's principal fame, however, was as a teacher, his pupils including Thalberg, Liszt and Stephen Heller, and his pedagogical works had and continue to have wide currency. In piano music, Czerny's principal works were in the form of exercises and studies, of which he wrote a very large number, extending up to his Opus 861, Studies for the Left Hand. His other piano music consists of Sonatas, Sonatinas, Variations and other shorter pieces. He wrote music for piano duet, and for up to four players.
One fine example of Czerny’s Piano Duets is the Grand Sonata for Piano four hands in F Minor, Op.178. Written in the same key as Beethoven’s “Appassionata”, it is very much an homage to his idol. First Movement (Allegro spiritoso) is extremely dramatic and technically challenging, as is expected from Czerny. Second Movement (Adagio) has an incredible calmness to it. It opens up with a simple choral-like melody, and later gets embellished in the primo part. Again, it could be said that this movement is inspired by Beethoven - 2nd movement of “Pathetique” to be exact. It happens to be in the same key - A Flat Major. 3rd Movement - charming and irresistible Scherzo (Allegro vivo); and Finale (Allegro molto agitato) - well, to say that it is virtuosic is to say nothing. The music is extremely theatrical, full of passion, beauty and, of course, lots of sixteenths to tackle!

FRANZ SCHUBERT (1797-1828): Fantasie in F Minor for Piano Four Hands, D.940

Between January and April 1828, a few months before his death, Schubert wrote this last fantasy, which he dedicated to Karoline Esterhazy. In this dedication can be seen the reason behind his return to the piano for four hands; Schubert played countless hours with her when he was contracted as her private piano teacher some years before. Schubert refined the innovative design of his earlier Fantasie in C (D. 760), the so-called "Wanderer' Fantasie, a virtuoso piano showpiece dating from 1822. Before Schubert, 'Fantasie' usually implied improvisatory material and structural freedom, but the F minor Fantasie is a tightly constructed work in which four movements are fused into one, to be played without pause.
To open the duet, he abandoned the explosive bravura of the "Wanderer" in favor of an elegiac theme that is unforgettable after first encounter. The very beginning, Allegretto molto moderato, is simply haunting with its murmuring accompaniment, and the higher voice laying out the wistful first theme. As with the 'Wanderer' Fantasie, it may be considered a sonata form, with the Largo and Scherzo serving as development. This progression of movements proves Schubert a master of transition, as each seems to flow inevitably from what precedes. At the same time all sections of the piece are subtly related through the recurring appearance of dotted rhythms, the prevalence of the rising interval of the fourth, the characteristic Schubertian shifts between major and minor, and the use of ornamental trills.
The larger coherence of Schubert's structure is unmistakable when the haunting opening reappears to initiate the fourth section, acting as a recapitulation and leading to a fugue. The theme appears once more, in the coda, a final gesture of intimacy and longing before the heart wrenching dissonances of the closing measures. Schubert played the piece himself with his good friend Franz Lachner on May 9, 1828.



DARIUS MILHAUD (1892-1974)
Track 1: Le Boeuf Sur Le Toit, Op. 58 (The Ox on the Roof: The Nothing Doing Bar)

CARL CZERNY (1791-1857): Grand Sonata for Piano Four Hands in F Minor, Op. 178
Track 2: Allegro Spiritoso
Track 3: Adagio
Track 4: Scherzo: Allegro Vivo
Track 5: Finale: Allegro Molto Agitato

JOHN CORIGLIANO (b.1938): Gazebo Dances for Piano Four Hands (1972)
Track 6: Overture
Track 7: Waltz
Track 8: Adagio
Track 9: Tarantella

FRANZ SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Track 10: Fantasie in F Minor for Piano Four Hands, D.940
July 18, 2013 - 7:58 pm

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