20 November 2020

When commitment shows

It wasn't a program I particularly recognised and not even a format I particularly know, although I have heard four-handed piano before.  But rarely and I don't remember it being like this.  The playing here was intense, unbending, busy, complex, deeply felt by players rocking backwards and forwards ont heir stool.  They were both products of the Russian/Ukrainian systems, one a Masters from Donetsk State Conservatorium; the other Honours from the Moscow State Institute of Music.  Now both in Canberra, teaching, accompanying and the like.  I remember a story told by Elena Katz-Chernin, also a product of that education, that indicated the demands placed on students compared to Australia's.  It was an eye-opener (Look for the story somewhere here on CJ under EKC).  Suffice to say, these were impressive and they played wonderfully together.  They had even had classes in four-handed piano in their studies.  They played Rosenblatt (including one well-known Russian theme) and Gluck and Piazzola Libertango, (obviously one I knew well) and Rachmaninov Vocalise and a nicely structured modern Christmas medley (is it that time already, in this strangest year 2020) by Jonathan Scott.  All was obviously arranged for four-hands, so the lines and sounds were different.  I couldn't easily separate the players/hands by ear, although seeing a video afterwards with hands showing made it obvious.  But whatever, this was a virtuosic effort with absolute commitment.  Few words, short breaks, some smiles form Natalia and quiet determination from treble-ended Elena.  Just wonderful.

Elena Nikulina and Natalia Tkachenko played four-handed piano on the Yamaha grand at Wesley Music Centre.

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