1 October 2016

Ledonesiai - Four Hands and Icebergs

Last night in the cosy space of the Steinway and Sons dealer in Vilnius was a concert of 20th Century music for piano four hands. The duo of Diana Anna Kislovskaja and Lina Petkeviciute treated us to a nice varied programme of works by many fine composers over the past 100 years, with about half the repertoire being from the Baltic.

The concert opened with Diana quietly shuffling in to play Arvo Part's Fur Alina. The popular work for solo piano is performed so much within Lithuania and it is always lovely to hear it. The curious element for me, is what seems to be a Lithuanian habit of playing the piece twice. Diana showed a real calmness and ability to let notes ring, but I imagine if she slowed it down dramatically and bought the dynamic down too the performance would have been out of this world.
Then after a brief introduction of the concert as a whole, came a radical gear change. Poulenc's Sonata for Four Hands. This playful piece is another joyous piece, I don't get to hear quite as often as I'd like and the pair of Lina and Diana, really knew how to bring out the cheeky charm of Poulenc while retaining a great sense of intellect. The nuance and sheer dialogue as a duo was a definitive treat for the ears. Following this was the wonderfully brief Three Easy Pieces by Stravinsky. The pairs sense of charm and humour really came out in this piece, especially during passages of really heavy bitonality, which to my ears always sound amazingly sarcastic. 

After a minute breather, we came to our next Baltic piece, Pari Intervallo by Arvo Part. This piece is oddly not as popular, considering how wonderful it is. The pair played the piece well, but the problem is, to make Part really musical you really have to delve into the piece; just playing the notes is never enough. I don't know how aware the pair are of this, but Pari Intervallo is originally a work for organ, and so this kind of quality needs to be bought out of the piano duo. Leaving the pedal sustained for the entire piece, combined with an extremely steady tempi would really make the notes hang in the air magnificently. This being said last night's performance was still very nicely done, just that extra push would really make the piece electric. 

Of course John Adams would make some form of appearance in this concert. Its almost impossible to find a series of 20th Century concerts in Lithuania that don't feature minimalists. Lina rendition of China Gates was magnificently done I couldn't fault it. Then came a duo by a composer I had no previous knowledge of. Tiziano Bedetti's L'auriga celeste was a series of miniatures for piano four hands. Their brevity really bought out the charm of the music, never over staying its welcome. It was almost like having an overly polite guest visit you to utter a few little quips and anecdotes, before leaving quickly because they 'didn't want to be a bother'. The character of these miniatures really suited the duo quite naturally, everything spoke well, and they really seemed in tune with each other.
Following this came the focus of the concert Ledonesiai by Justina Trinkunaite. This work was one of the most substantial pieces of the concert and showed a composer with a sign of lots of promise. The opening was hypnotising, and the way it gathered its momentum was elegantly done. Nothing was over used, nothing was under appreciated. Every gesture had purpose and was effective. The directness of the overall dramaturgy was profoundly timed and avoided cliche. The climax of the work was striking and intense, with the roaring harmonies and resonating strings really creating a powerful discourse. Then the final Baltic composer appeared. Gintaras Sodeika's Cikados is a really lively and intensive piece. The interplay between the duo is bordering on the line of complete self destruction, but the duo walked through it.

Then came a rare treat in the Baltic, Feldman's Four Hands. Despite the huge popularity of American experimental music here in Lithuania, Morton Feldman hasn't seemed to connect to musicians in the same way; I am unsure if this is just availability of scores of just something in the local temperament. The performance was heartfelt, but to be honest a little fast. As Feldman had a masterful way of making pieces last hours, a piece like Four Hands really deserves to be steady. That being said, the interaction between the pair and the atmosphere they created was magical. The finale came in the form of Steve Morris's Heavy Light a really lively and playful piece, which was a nice way to round of a concert. But a part of me really wanted something a bit more profound or jubilant to finish.

The duo overall show a lot of promise. Technically speaking there is no faulting them, interpretation sometimes needs to be questioned more, but as they grow they can learn this very easily. My main thought is if they are going to go down the route of piano duos and piano four hands they really need to tackle some of the larger classics of the repertoire or alternatively really broaden their knowledge. The repertoire was very nice, the mix was good, but nothing really in their choices surprised me. This is something they should explore if they want to become a more substantial duo. I also say this in the hope they play works like Steve Martland's Drill or even the piano four hands rendition of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. Either way I will be keeping my eye on them.

No comments:

Post a Comment