Duo Papillion — Music for Piano Four Hands

We were treated to piano synergy Friday night, March 8, 2019, at First Presbyterian Church in Carmel. Pianists Barbara Ruzicka and Kumiko Uyeda debuted as a newly-founded, four-hand piano ensemble to be known as Duo Papillion.They filled the sanctuary with wonderful music for an attentive audience performing on a Steinway concert grand piano that sounded very nice indeed. I have fond memories of playing duets as a piano student, but my efforts didn’t come close to the fine musicianship exhibited by Duo Papillon.

These two pianists truly understand the music they performed. They have command of the instrument and play well together. Starting with an arrangement by Greg Anderson, of the Ballet from Orphée et Eurydice by Christoph Gluck, they captivated the audience. Then, on to Der Rosenkavalier Concert Waltz, Op. 59 by Richard Strauss arranged by Otto Singer — triple meter always sounds happy and brings a smile to our faces. To end the first half, the artists turned to the Fantasie in f-minor, Op. 103,by Franz Schubert. This is a masterpiece, to be sure, and being much longer, gave us ample time to time to savor the music. In my mind I could imagine Schubert playing this work with a favored pupil, perhaps Karoline Esterhazy herself. 

After a short intermission, the duo resumed with a transcription of Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in C minor. Although cited as K 546 in the program notes, it wasn’t immediately clear which specific work we were about to hear. Being an organist, I know there are quite a few in c-minor. But, from the first powerful chord, I knew it to be the well-loved “Great” BWV 546. In the program notes, it’s mentioned that not much is known of the transcriber. I’d like to know more, for he gave us well-arranged counterpoint and voice leading of Bach’s original score, which the two artists executed so well.

I particularly liked the Ravel Mother Goose Suite played next. It was fun to see the pianists show their versatility by changing places. The color wash of sound was lovely along with hearing the full keyboard used in a delightful way. To end the program, we heard three Hungarian Dances by Johannes Brahms. As Schubert and Ravel did, Brahms composed these pieces originally for four hands. As mentioned in the program notes, he revealed in them a bit of his gypsy soul. What a wonderful send off for us to step out into the crisp evening!

I hope to hear more transcriptions, duets, and fun music played by these artists. There was mention of an original four-hand piece being written for Duo Papillon. I look forward to hearing that work soon! Thank you, ladies, for bringing us this fine repertoire. 

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Archived in these categories: Classical Era, Piano, Romantic Era.
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