The Chicago Tribune reviews Leif Ove and Marc-André Hamelin’s duo recital tour of the States

“… The pianists are just different enough in matters of style and temperament to complement one another.  In their recital of Mozart, Debussy and Stravinky, the precision and spontaneity of their playing reflected a summit meeting of fingers and minds you would expect to find in far more seasoned duos than theirs.

“Mozart’s twin-keyboard music is a logical means of establishing an even playing field.  The Norwegian pianist and his Canadian-born colleague came up with a Mozartean rarity, a short Larghetto and Allegro in E flat heard in Paul BaduraSkoda’s completion.  The music made a well-mannered impression, its sunny surface briefly broken by a touch of Sturm und Drang.

“Debussy’s “En Blanc et Noir” summoned a range of colors, articularions, dynamics and expressive shadings that well suited these late pieces … The bulk of Sunday’s concert was devoted to Stravinsky, beginning with one of his lesser-known neoclassical pieces, the 1931-35 Concerto for Two Pianos.  Andsnes and Hamelin brought lift to the rhythms, definition to the spiky contrapuntal textures, of music that can easily sound aridly academic in lesser hands.

After intermission, Hamelin took the primo piano part for the afternoon’s piece de resitance, Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring” … The standard criticsm of this version is that it amounts to a black-and-white deconstruction of this riotously colorful landmark of early 20th century symphonic modernism, a criticism Hamelin and Andsnes made irrelevant by eloquently arguing the music’s merits on purely pianistic terms.  They didn’t try to imitate an orchestral sonorotiy, which would have been futile.  Instead, they played up the tightly interlocking rhythms and clarified dense textures, taking the listener past Stravinsky’s gnashing dissonances to show how this revolutionary music is made.

Packing so much musical complexity into 176 keys of course requires formidable technique on the part of both pianists; so fearsome are the ensemble difficulties that the slightest finger slip or faulty gear shift would have proved fatal. Nothing of the sort happened Sunday, when the judiciously balanced Hamelin and Andsnes struck sparks off one another to produce an astonishingly clean yet tremednously exciting performance.

… Naturally the auditorium exploded into a resounding O.”


Source: Chicago Tribune