Two extraordinary pianists have joined forces to provide COVID-weary audiences with a program of rarely performed pieces for two pianos, including works by Ferruccio Busoni, Sergei Rachmaninoff, and Maurice Ravel.
Recorded at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, the program opens with Busoni’s “Fantasia Contrappuntistica,” a technically demanding and intensely expressive work that Kirill Gerstein and Garrick Ohlsson execute with dazzling skill and grace. Among Busoni’s output are several works for two pianos. However, he considered the monumental “Fantasia” ― based on an unfinished fugue subject from the Bach chorale, “Allein Gott in der Hoeh sei He” ― his masterpiece.
The program continues with Rachmaninoff’s much-loved Symphonic Dances Op.45 for Orchestra, a work that is certainly familiar to orchestral fans, many of whom may not be aware that the version for two pianos even exists. After experiencing this piece in the hands of the magnificent Gerstein and Ohlsson, it is not difficult to imagine listeners eschewing the orchestra and seeking out the piano version the next time they’re looking to bathe in Rachmaninoff’s lush harmonies and rhythmic power ― that magical spell only he can cast.
And finally, the dynamic duo concludes their pianistic tour de force with an electrifying performance of Ravel’s “La Valse,” the composer’s rich and sensuous homage to the great Viennese waltz, and coincidentally a piece also best known as an orchestral work.
The Shriver Hall concert series has provided world-class performances to audiences in Baltimore for more than 50 years. With this season’s At Home Fall 2020 series, classical music fans can now access concerts wherever they may find themselves ― in the heart of Charm City, a few miles south in the nation’s capital, or on the other side of the globe.
Running Time: Approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes, followed by a 15-minute question and answer session with the artist, Garrick Ohlsson.
“Pianists Kirill Gerstein and Garrick Ohlsson” was streamed at 5:30pm on November 8, 2020 and will be available online through November 11, 2020. To view the recording, click here. For more information about the Shriver Hall Concert Series, click here.