Music for Two Pianos/Piano Four-Hands

Your 'hot spot' for all classical music subjects. Non-classical music subjects are to be posted in the Corner Pub.

Moderators: Lance, Corlyss_D

Post Reply
Ken
Posts: 2511
Joined: Thu May 04, 2006 6:17 am
Location: Düsseldorf, Nordrhein-Westfalen

Music for Two Pianos/Piano Four-Hands

Post by Ken » Tue Jan 15, 2008 6:30 pm

Hello all,

I've recently been on a bit of a tear listening to music either written or transcribed for two pianos or piano four-hands. I'm enjoying the transcriptions of various chamber works and symphonies by my favourite Romantic composers, and especially a version of Brahms's Tragic Overture for two pianos that I stumbled across. Owing to the fact that this medium was tremendously popular during the mid-18th century, there is no shortage of repertory to browse through.

I've always been fond of the music that Schumann wrote for piano duo, particularly his Op. 66 "Bilder aus Osten". This series of six impromptus to me best exemplifies the Schumann piano "mood" -- at times brilliantly virtuosic, at times clever, and at times introspective and touching.

What are your favourite works for two pianos or piano four-hands?

- Ken
Du sollst schlechte Compositionen weder spielen, noch, wenn du nicht dazu gezwungen bist, sie anhören.

anasazi
Posts: 603
Joined: Thu Feb 02, 2006 11:49 pm
Location: Sarasota Florida

Post by anasazi » Tue Jan 15, 2008 7:30 pm

Either originals or transcriptions? Tough question. But it would probably be Ravel's Mother Goose Suite, originally written for piano, four hands. My spouse is a pianist also, so we have this. Tricky piece (even though it was written for the children of friends of Ravel). We can make it through perhaps two or three selections at tempo. This piece comes pretty close to being my all-time favorite work, although I actually prefer the version for small orchestra.

I also have the Reger transcriptions of the Brandenburgs for four hands. Just exactly the correct registers, so while a lot of fun, it does not come off (on piano) so well as other transcriptions where a little transposition is used (pianists Myra Hess and Wilhelm Kempff made some wonderful piano transcriptions for two hands that come to mind).

Ralph Vaughan Williams piano concerto was originally composed for two pianists (two pianos) and it is a marvelous piece if you have the opportunity to hear it played that way. There is also a piano two hands version as well, and that is more commonly played (and recorded) nowadays.
Last edited by anasazi on Tue Jan 15, 2008 8:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"Take only pictures, leave only footprints" - John Muir.

Bösendorfer
Posts: 328
Joined: Tue May 01, 2007 6:22 am
Location: NJ

Post by Bösendorfer » Tue Jan 15, 2008 7:48 pm

I don't have a favourite at this point (well, maybe I like some of Schubert's compositions for four hands best of what I've heard). But I do enjoy very much the following 2-cd set that Lance recommended here some time ago:

http://www.amazon.com/Duo-Piano-Extrava ... B0000041D3

(Involving two pianos in various ways.)

As for Brahms, I think he himself made arrangements of a number of his own works for piano/four hands. There's a series (on Naxos?) with two pianists who have recorded cd after cd of it: symphonies, Deutsches Requiem, etc.! I haven't checked it out so far, but it sounds interesting (they also got some very good reviews).

Florian

MaestroDJS
Posts: 1713
Joined: Wed Jun 04, 2003 1:15 pm
Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States, North America, Earth, Solar System, Milky Way Galaxy, Universe

Post by MaestroDJS » Tue Jan 15, 2008 10:29 pm

In the realm of music for 2 pianos, there are En blanc et noir and Petite Suite by Claude Debussy. Sergei Rachmaninoff composed 2 Suites for 2 pianos which can be exhilarating. Igor Stravinsky also composed a pair of works: Concerto for Two Solo Pianos and Sonata for Two Pianos. For lighter music, there are the 2-piano versions of the Hungarian Dances by Johannes Brahms and the Slavonic Dances by Antonín Dvořák.

Here's a delightfully bizarre arrangement:

Franz Liszt: Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 (piano duet with Victor Borge and Sahan Arzruni)
http://youtube.com/watch?v=BcV19rylSZc

Franz Schubert composed a large amount of music for piano duet (piano four hands). In his time, the piano duet was primarily for making music in the home instead of the concert hall, but Schubert's works push the limits and are outstanding. Among the most notable are his sublime Fantasie in F Minor and the popular Marche Militaire No. 1. Probably Schubert's finest work for piano duet is his Grand Duo for Piano Four Hands, Opus 140, which is so symphonic in scope that Robert Schumann thought at first that it was an orchestral symphony transcribed for piano duet.

Schumann had this to say about Schubert's Grand Duo (his original German followed by my English translation):
In [i]Neue Zeitschrift für Musik[/i], Leipzig, 1838, Robert Schumann wrote:Vor zehn Jahren also würde ich diese zuletzt erschienenen Werke ohne Weiteres den schönsten der Welt beigezählt haben, und zu den Leistungen der Gegenwart gehalten sind sie mir das auch jetzt. Als Compositionen von Schubert zähle ich sie aber nicht in die Klasse, wohin ich sein Quartett in D moll für Streichinstrumente, sein Trio in Es dur, viele seiner kleinen Gesangs- und Clavierstücke rechne. Namentlich scheint mir das Duo noch unter Beethoven'schem Einfluß entstanden, wie ich es denn auch für eine auf das Clavier übertragene Symphonie hielt, bis mich das Original-Manuskript, in dem es von seiner eigenen Hand als "vierhändige Sonate" bezeichnet ist, eines Andern überweisen wollte. "Wollte" sag' ich; denn noch immer kann ich nicht von meinem Gedanken. Wer so viel schreibt wie Schubert, macht mit Titeln am Ende nicht viel Federlesens, und so überschrieb er sein Werk in der Eile vielleicht Sonate, während es als Symphonie in seinem Kopfe fertig stand; des gemeineren Grundes noch zu erwähnen, daß sich zu einer Sonate doch immer eher Herausgeber fanden als für eine Symphonie, in einer Zeit, wo sein Name erst bekannt zu werden anfing. Mit seinem Styl, der Art seiner Behandlung des Claviers vertraut, dieses Werk mit seinen andern Sonaten vergleichend, in denen sich der reinste Claviercharakter ausspricht, kann ich es mit nur als Orchesterstück auslegen. Man hört Saiten- und Blasinstrumente, Tutti's, einzelne Soli's Paukenwirbel; die großbreite symphonische Form, selbst die Anklänge an Beethoven'sche Symphonieen, wie im zweiten Satz an das Andante der zweiten von Beethoven, im letzten an den letzten der A dur-Symphonie wie einige blassere Stellen, die mir durch das Arrangement verloren zu haben scheinen, unterstützen meine Ansicht gleichfalls. Damit möchte ich das Duo aber gegen den Vorwurf schützen, daß esals Clavierstück nicht immer richtig gedacht sei, daß dem Instrument etwas zugemuthet wird, was es nicht leisten kann, während es als eine arrangirte Symphonie mit andern Augen zu betrachten wäre. Nehmen wir es so, und wir sind um eine Symphonie reicher. Die Anklänge an Beethoven erwähnten wir schon; zehren wir doch alle von seinen Schätzen. Aber auch ohne diesen erhabenen Vorgänger wäre Schubert kein Anderer geworden; seine Eigenthümlichkeit würde vielleicht nur später durchgebrochen sein. So wird, der einigermaßen Gefühl und Bildung hat, Beethoven und Schubert auf den ersten Seiten erkennen und unterscheiden. Schubert ist ein Mädchencharakter, an Jenen gehalten, bei weitem geschwätziger, weicher und breiter; gegen Jenen ein Kind, das sorglos unter den Riesen spielt. So verhalten sich diese Symphonieensätze zu denen Beethoven's und können in ihrer Innigkeit gar nicht anders, als von Schubert gedacht werden. Zwar bringt auch er seine Kraftstellen, bietet auch er Massen auf; doch verhält er sich immer wie Weib zum Mann, der befiehlt, wo jenes bittet und überredet. Dies alles aber nur im Vergleich zu Beethoven; gegen Andere ist er noch Mann genug, ja der kühnste und freigeistigste der neueren Musiker. In diesem Sinne möge man das Duo zur Hand nehmen. Nach den Schönheiten braucht man nicht zu suchen; sie kommen uns entgegen und gewinnen, je öfter man sie betrachtet; man muß es durchaus liebgewinnen dieses liebende Dichtergemüth. So sehr gerade das Adagio an Beethoven erinnert, so wüßte ich auch kaum etwas, wo Schubert sich mehr gezeigt als Er, so leibhaftig, daß einem wohl bei einzelnen Tacten sein Name über die Lippen schlüpft, und dann hat's getroffen. Auch darin werden wir übereinstimmen, daß sich das Werk vom Anfang bis zum Schluß auf gleicher Höhe hält; etwas, was man freilich immer fordern müßte, die neuste Zeit aber so selten leistet. Keinem Musiker dürfte ein solches Werk fremd bleiben, und wenn sie manche Schöpfung der Gegenwart und vieles andere der Zukunft nicht verstehen, weil ihnen die Einsicht der Uebergänge abgeht, so ist es ihre Schuld. Die neue sogenannte romantische Schule ist keineswegs aus der Luft herabgewachsen; es hat alles seinen guten Grund.

[Ten years ago I would thus have declared these most recently published works, without further ado, the most beautiful in the world, and held to the achievements of the present they remain so. As compositions of Schubert I count them however not in the class, wherein I reckon his Quartet in D Minor for string instruments, his Trio in E-Flat Major, many of his small songs and piano pieces. Namely the Duo seems to me still developed under Beethoven's influence, which I also held to be a symphony transcribed for piano, until the original manuscript, in which it is designated in his own hand as a "four-handed sonata", wanted to show me otherwise. I say "wanted" because still I cannot give up my thought. One who writes as much as Schubert, made short work of titles at the end, and perhaps so he overwrote his work in haste Sonata, while it stood finished in his head as Symphony; to still mention the more common reason that a sonata would more easily find a publisher than a symphony, in a time when his name first began to become known. Familiar with his style, the manner of his treatment of the piano, comparing this work with his other sonatas, in which the purest pianist character expresses itself, I can regard it only as an orchestral piece. One hears string and wind instruments, tuttis, individual soli, drumrolls; the large broad symphonic form, even the resemblances to Beethoven's symphonies, as in the second movement to the Andante of the second of Beethoven, in the last movement to the finale of the A Major Symphony like some pale places, which seem to me to have lost in the arrangement, support my opinion equally. Thus I would like to protect the Duo however from the reproach that this piano piece was not always correctly thought-out, that the instrument is somewhat overtaxed, which it cannot carry out, while it as a arranged symphony would be regarded with other eyes. Were we to take it thus, then we are a symphony richer. We already mentioned the resemblances to Beethoven; but we all live from his treasures. In addition, without this exalted predecessor would Schubert have become no other; perhaps his individuality would have broken through only later. Thus, whoever has feeling and education to some extent, will recognize Beethoven and Schubert on the first pages and differentiate between them. Schubert is a maidenly character, compared to the other, by far more talkative, softer and broader; compared to him, a child who plays carelessly among the giants. Thus these symphonic movements behave to those of Beethoven and in their intimateness can be thought as none other than by Schubert. It is true that he also brings his powerful places, he also musters masses; but he always behaves himself as a woman to a man who commands, whereas he asks and persuades. All of this however is only in comparison with Beethoven; against others he is still man enough, the boldest and most free-spirited of the newer musicians. In this sense one may take the Duo to hand. One does not need to look for beauties; they come to meet and win us, the more frequently one regards them; one must thoroughly grow fond of this loving poetic soul. The Adagio so strongly reminds me of Beethoven, but I would also hardly know something where Schubert is more distinctly shown as himself, we meet him so physically that probably within a few measures his name slips over the lips. Also we will agree in the fact that the work holds itself on the same height from the beginning to the conclusion; something that one must always certainly demand, which however the most modern time carries out so rarely. No musician may remain a stranger to such a work, and if they do not understand many creations of the present and many others of the future, because to them the insight of the transitions go away, then it is their fault. The new so-called romantic school is in no way from pulled down from the air; everything has its good foundation.]
Concerti for 2 pianos and orchestra are somewhat scarce, particularly from the Romantic era. In the Baroque and Classical periods, ensembles were fairly small and interdependence between instrumentalists was stressed. Concerti were written for every solo instrument, and double or triple concerti were not unusual. The concerto evolved from the Baroque concerto grosso, which treated the orchestra as a body of soloists. Cooperation between instruments was foremost. Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) wrote several concerti grossi, and also many concerti for 1 or more solo instruments which treat the solo as a partner with the orchestra. These include concerti for 1, 2, 3 and 4 keyboards and orchestra. In the Classical period, Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-l809) and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) expanded the role of the solo in the concerto to give it more importance and freedom. Mozart devoted some of his finest music to his 27 concerti for piano and orchestra. Of these, No. 10 features 2 pianos and No. 7 features 3 pianos.

In the Romantic period, composers seemed to lose interest in concerti for any solo except a violin or piano, or perhaps a cello. Emphasis was placed on a single heroic performer arrayed against a large orchestra, and the solo piano was ideal. In contrast, the only important Romantic concerto for 2 pianos and orchestra is by Max Bruch (1838-1928), written late in life. It is a rich, melodic work, and the twin pianos complement and reinforce one another.

In the 20th Century, many composers again became interested in individual instruments, smaller ensembles and early musical forms. Francis Poulenc (1899-1963) was among the first to write a double piano concerto, which contrasts both Baroque and modern elements. Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) wrote a splendid piano concerto in 1932, but the massive solo part was revised for 2 pianos in 1946 and it is now normally performed a double piano concerto.

An excellent related work is Sonata for two pianos and percussion by Béla Bartók. In addition to the 2 pianos, the 2 percussionists play timpani, bass drum, cymbals, snare drum, tam-tam and xylophone. Bartók later arranged this as his Concerto for Two Pianos, Percussion and Orchestra, and it's a real tour de force.

PS. A throwback to the Baroque and Classical eras is the Concerto for Two Pianos vs. Orchestra "Two Pianos are Better than One" by P.D.Q. Bach.

Here's a delightful and historic video performance.

Francis Poulenc (1899-1963):
Concerto in D Minor for Two Pianos and Orchestra
Francis Poulenc and Jacques Février, Pianos
Orchestre National de la RTF
Georges Prêtre, Conductor
Televised 1 décembre 1962

Notes: RTF = Radiodiffusion-Télévision Française
Poulenc is the pianist on the left

I. Allegro ma non troppo
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cC4kJiTHTtQ

II. Larghetto
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z2B5xTGInzI

III. Allegro molto
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C7j7Vss8BSI

Here is an interesting little observation. Many musicians memorize the music and perform entirely from memory. By contrast, here we see Francis Poulenc performing HIS OWN MUSIC, closely following the printed score in front of him, turning the pages etc. Sadly, Poulenc died the next month.
David Stybr, Personal Assistant and Der Webmeister to Denise Swanson, New York Times Best-Selling Author
http://www.DeniseSwanson.com
~ Devereaux's Dime Store Mysteries ~ Book 2: Nickeled-and-Dimed to Death, March 2013
~ Scumble River Mysteries ~ Book 15: Murder of the Cat's Meow, October 2012
Penguin ~ Obsidian ~ Signet, New York, New York

Chalkperson
Disposable Income Specialist
Posts: 17643
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2007 1:19 pm
Location: New York City
Contact:

Post by Chalkperson » Wed Jan 16, 2008 12:35 am

I have a disc of Mahler's First Symphony, transposed by Bruno Walter and played by the Prague Piano Duo...

Jack Kelso
Posts: 3004
Joined: Sun Jun 12, 2005 11:52 pm
Location: Mannheim, Germany

Post by Jack Kelso » Wed Jan 16, 2008 1:55 am

Great thread, Ken. Did you know that Carl Reinecke arranged the "Bilder aus Osten" for large orchestra? I have a stereo-radio performance of it, but forgot to note who's performing it.

I enjoy the Brahms' "Variationen über ein Thema von Haydn", opus 56b (for two pianos). It seems to me less stilted than the orchestral version (which I also like a lot).

Schumann's little-known opus 85, "12 Klavierstücke für kleine und große Kinder" from 1849 for four-handed piano is a real charmer. Also fine is the opus 46, "Andante und Variationen in H" (B major) for two pianos. Does anyone know the "Ball-Szenen" for 4-hand piano, op. 109 or the "Kinderball", op. 130?

I am less familiar with duo piano works of Schubert and Mendelssohn, but only when I hear them do I know what I've been missing.

Tschüß!
Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

Holden Fourth
Posts: 1402
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 5:47 am

Post by Holden Fourth » Wed Jan 16, 2008 3:25 am

Mozart has some great works including the 2 piano concerto in E flat K365 and the sonata for 2 pianos in D K448. Perahia/Lupu do a great job with the sonata and my favourite for the cto is Gilels/Gilels/Bohm on DG.

Jack Kelso
Posts: 3004
Joined: Sun Jun 12, 2005 11:52 pm
Location: Mannheim, Germany

Post by Jack Kelso » Wed Jan 16, 2008 3:40 am

Holden Fourth wrote:Mozart has some great works including the 2 piano concerto in E flat K365 and the sonata for 2 pianos in D K448. Perahia/Lupu do a great job with the sonata and my favourite for the cto is Gilels/Gilels/Bohm on DG.
Aaaah, how could I forget Mozart?! The C Major Sonata for 2 pianos, too.

Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

pizza
Posts: 5094
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 4:03 am

Post by pizza » Wed Jan 16, 2008 4:32 am

Coincidentally I just heard Bernstein's scintillating transcription of Copland's El Salon Mexico played by Joshua Pierce and Dorothy Jonas on a wonderful Koch Int'l. CD titled The Aaron Copland Collection.

val
Posts: 1039
Joined: Sat Oct 29, 2005 5:46 am
Location: Lisbon

Post by val » Wed Jan 16, 2008 5:33 am

My favorites are Schubert's Fantasy in F minor, Mozart's Sonatas K 497 and 448, Brahms Hungarian Dances, Debussy's En Blanc et Noir and Epigraphes Antiques.

I will also mention Bartok's extraordinary Sonata for two pianos (but with percussion) and Messiaen's "Visions de l'Amen".

There are a lot of intersting little pieces by Schubert, such as the Military Marches or the Divertissement à la Hongroise and Schumann's "Bilder aus Osten".

gfweis
Posts: 392
Joined: Tue Sep 07, 2004 12:02 pm
Location: Aiken, SC

Post by gfweis » Wed Jan 16, 2008 6:26 am

Along with many others, I would cite the K448. The right spirit for the work is found in the 1937 recording by Josef & Rosina Lhevinne (Naxos). 90% of that spirit, plus technical perfection and sonic splendor (rather lacking in the Lhevinnes) is in Tal & Groethuysen (Sony). And...here's a real surprise...one can enjoy what I imagine is exactly the joie de vivre Mozart had in mind for the allegro con spirito in this delightful youtube posting: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7BG5fns9QcM
Greg Weis

Ken
Posts: 2511
Joined: Thu May 04, 2006 6:17 am
Location: Düsseldorf, Nordrhein-Westfalen

Post by Ken » Wed Jan 16, 2008 9:44 am

Bösendorfer wrote: As for Brahms, I think he himself made arrangements of a number of his own works for piano/four hands. There's a series (on Naxos?) with two pianists who have recorded cd after cd of it: symphonies, Deutsches Requiem, etc.! I haven't checked it out so far, but it sounds interesting (they also got some very good reviews).

Florian
Naxos indeed, and 17 volumes worth! I'm going to indulge and buy a few discs from the collection. Volume 5 is the disc with the Deutsches Requiem, Volumes 6 through 8 contain the Symphonies... Uh-oh, I'm now tempted to deplete my bank account even further.

Also, Jack, thanks for the heads-up about the orchestral "Bilder aus Osten". I'm going to find me that recording
Du sollst schlechte Compositionen weder spielen, noch, wenn du nicht dazu gezwungen bist, sie anhören.

Lance
Site Administrator
Posts: 17407
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 1:27 am
Location: Binghamton, New York
Contact:

Re: Music for Two Pianos/Piano Four-Hands

Post by Lance » Thu Jan 17, 2008 2:17 pm

keninottawa wrote:[snipped] I've always been fond of the music that Schumann wrote for piano duo, particularly his Op. 66 "Bilder aus Osten". This series of six impromptus to me best exemplifies the Schumann piano "mood" -- at times brilliantly virtuosic, at times clever, and at times introspective and touching.

What are your favourite works for two pianos or piano four-hands?

- Ken
If you are enamoured of Schumann's music, there's a new Oehms Classics CD [OC-577, 63:28, DDD] from Germany of the world premiere recording of his Quintet for Piano and Strings in E-flat, Op. 44 transcribed by Clara Wieck Schumann for two pianos. Nobody understood her husband's music more than Clara and she was a significant composer in her own right as well as being a piano virtuoso of the highest caliber, from all accounts. This is beautifully played by Duo d'Accord (Shao-Yin Huang and Sebastian Euler, pianists.) The disc also includes Bilder aus Osten Six Impromptus, Op. 66 for piano four-hands as well as Schumann's Andante and Variations for Two Pianos, Op. 46.

The husband and wife team of Goldstone and Clemmow have also made recordings on several labels of original and transcribed works for two pianos or piano four-hands. Here's a sampling:
  • Divine Art 25020 - Tchaikovsky: Symphony #4 (transcribed by Taneyev); Rimsky-Korsakov: Romeo & Juliet (transcribed by MRS. Rimsky-Korsakov!) along with 16 songs
  • Divine Art 25026 - "Unauthorized Piano Duets by Schubert," including the Trout Quintet (transcribed by Joseph Czerny; waltzes, overtures, polonaises, studies, etc.
  • Divine Art 25028 - Dvorak: Symphony #9 (New World) and Mendelssohn "Scotch" Symphony (transcribed by the composers themselves for two pianos)
  • Divine Art 25032 - "Orientale" - two pianos and four-hand duets by by Gorb, Borodin, Gliere, John-Mayer, Holst/Day, J. Achron, C. McPhee, L. Auer, and Goldstone
  • Divine Art 25033 - "Tzigane" - Enescu: Romanian Rhapsody #1; Kodály: Dances of Galanta; Liszt: Hungarian Rhapsody #6, and music by Busoni, Dohnányi and de Falla
  • Divine Art 25039 - "Schubert: Unauthorized Piano Duos" - Piano Trio #1 in B-flat; "Arpeggione" Sonata, a Nocturne (all for piano duet)
  • Divine Art 25042 - Grieg: Piano Concerto in A Minor [world premiere recording]; Peer Gynt Suite #1; Norwegian Dances; Mozart/Grieg: Sonata in C, K545 [on Grotrian pianos]
  • Divine Art 25046 - Mozart: Magic Flute Overture (arr. Busoni); Sonata in B-flat (completed by Goldstone); Sonata in C (Grieg providing the second part); Sonata in D; Adagio & Rondo [premiere!]
  • Meridian 84237 - Moscheles: Grand Sonata; Fibish: Sonata in B-flat; Goetz: Sonata in G Minor (all piano duets)
  • Meridian 84238: "Lollipops" - music by Gottschalk, Mendelssohn, Moszkowski, German, Bruch, Rimsky-Korsakov (all piano duets)
  • Olympia 346 - music of Alexander Moyzes
  • Olympia 626 - Sonata #3 in F Minor, Op. 5; Chopin: Rondo, and music by Schütt, Philipp, Chaminade, Sauer and Gershwin
  • Olympia 630: Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherezade; Capriccio espagnol, and a song (all piano duet)
  • Olympia 636: Soler: Six Concertos for Two keyboards
  • Olympia 648: two-piano music by Britten, Britten/McPhee, and McPhee
  • Olympia 671-677 [7 CDs] - Schubert: complete original piano duets
  • Olympia 683: Holst: The Planets; Elgar: Serenade, and music by Bury and Bainton [The Planets transcription is incredibly wonderful! —Ed.]
  • Olympia 709: Hans Gal: complete piano duos
  • Symposium 1037 - "Virtuoso Piano Variations for Piano Duet" - music by Alkan, Beethoven, Franck, Schubert, Herzogenberg
  • Toccata 0010 - some duets - music by Herzogenberg and Brahms
In actuality, this list of two-pianos or piano, four-hands could go on forever. I would call to your attention some incredibly rare music performed by the piano duo known as Dagul and Beyer on their own Four Hands Music label (England). Here you will find music of Czerny, Dvorak, Schmitt, Weber, Jensen, Rachmaninoff, Reger, and too many to name here. There is also a huge number of recordings made by the husband/wife duo Egri & Pertis on the Hungaroton label. For much of this rare music, they use the Pleyel "double" piano, in itself, quite an invention!

So, in the end, there is a lot of recorded music, much of it relatively unknown, available or once available. If you need any other specific information, please let me know. What I have shown above is a tiny fraction of what has been made available on disc. [/color]
Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

Image

Jack Kelso
Posts: 3004
Joined: Sun Jun 12, 2005 11:52 pm
Location: Mannheim, Germany

Re: Music for Two Pianos/Piano Four-Hands

Post by Jack Kelso » Fri Jan 18, 2008 1:22 am

Lance wrote:Nobody understood her husband's music more than Clara....
No question about it---you are right about this, Lance.

Yet her understanding was not unqualified, as she destroyed some of Schumann's deeply inspired late works for 'cello and piano (according to Stephen Isserlis), attempted to change some of Schumann's finest piano works to be more in keeping with her Mendelssohnian "Leipziger Schule" harmonic conservativism, and suppressed the publication/performance of the great Violin Concerto. It was actually Brahms who prevented her from doing even more damage. Alas! We all have our faults!

Thanks very much for the long listing of rare piano works---you did really grand work in uncovering these. I'm quite a fan of seldom-played masters (especially of the Romantic Era) and these suggestions look really interesting!

Tschüß!
Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

Ken
Posts: 2511
Joined: Thu May 04, 2006 6:17 am
Location: Düsseldorf, Nordrhein-Westfalen

Re: Music for Two Pianos/Piano Four-Hands

Post by Ken » Fri Jan 18, 2008 1:37 pm

Lance wrote:
If you are enamoured of Schumann's music, there's a new Oehms Classics CD [OC-577, 63:28, DDD] from Germany of the world premiere recording of his Quintet for Piano and Strings in E-flat, Op. 44 transcribed by Clara Wieck Schumann for two pianos. Nobody understood her husband's music more than Clara and she was a significant composer in her own right as well as being a piano virtuoso of the highest caliber, from all accounts. This is beautifully played by Duo d'Accord (Shao-Yin Huang and Sebastian Euler, pianists.) The disc also includes Bilder aus Osten Six Impromptus, Op. 66 for piano four-hands as well as Schumann's Andante and Variations for Two Pianos, Op. 46.


I've got the disc and it is a cornerstone of my collecton -- I, too, would recommend it to any Schumann fan. The Duo D'Accord take a very youthful approach to both works!
Du sollst schlechte Compositionen weder spielen, noch, wenn du nicht dazu gezwungen bist, sie anhören.

Ken
Posts: 2511
Joined: Thu May 04, 2006 6:17 am
Location: Düsseldorf, Nordrhein-Westfalen

Post by Ken » Fri Jan 18, 2008 1:39 pm

By the way, I've gone and ordered the Brahms four-hand versions of the Deutsches Requiem as well as the Symphony no. 1. I'll be sure to give you my analysis once the discs come in the mail!
Du sollst schlechte Compositionen weder spielen, noch, wenn du nicht dazu gezwungen bist, sie anhören.

James

Post by James » Sun Jan 20, 2008 12:22 pm

*Stockhausen's Mantra for 2 ring-modulated pianos (each player is also equipped with auxilliary instruments; crotales and wood blocks, used as markers throughout sections of the piece)
*Nancarrow's Studies 41c & 44 (for 2 player pianos)
*Lutoslawski's Variations on a Theme by Paganini for 2 pianos
*Ravel's La Valse for 2 pianos
*Rachmaninov's Suite #2 for 2 pianos
*Stravinsky's Concerto for 2 pianos
*Bartok's Sonata for 2 Pianos (& Percussion)
*Messiaen's Visions de l'amen for 2 pianos

Beckmesser
Posts: 451
Joined: Sat Jan 19, 2008 12:11 pm
Location: Columbia/Westchester Counties NY

Post by Beckmesser » Fri Jan 25, 2008 12:04 pm

I'm very fond of Georges Bizet's Jeux d'enfants, Op. 22 (for piano, four hands) which is sometimes heard in an orchestral version. I have an EMI recording of it played by Jean-Phillipe Collard and Michel Béroff. Other works on this delightful disc include transcriptions of The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Prelude to the Afternoon of a Fawn, La Valse, and two of the Debussy Nocturnes.

Wallingford
Posts: 4521
Joined: Tue Jul 22, 2003 3:31 pm
Location: Brush, Colorado

Post by Wallingford » Fri Jan 25, 2008 5:22 pm

Saint-Saens did a nifty transcription for two pianos of his Danse Macabre .

Grieg wrote his original version of his Norwegian Dances (Op.35) for piano 4-hands.....they're superior to the more well-known Hans Sitt orchestration by virtue of two facts. One, there's no 2-bar vamp setting up the famous Second Dance's theme; two, in the third dance, Sitt--for some oddball reason--decides to make the final repetition of the main rhythm in the bass IN TRIPLETS, rather than the same rhythm (giving it to the trombones). Grieg just lets it be. Sitt's version sounds unwelcomely cacophonous in just that little area.

Grieg also wrote his Old Norwegian Romance With Variations (Op.51) for two pianos, and it's also the superior version: when the composer himself orchestrated it, he eliminated several variations, making for a disembodied listening experience.
Last edited by Wallingford on Sat Jan 26, 2008 2:49 am, edited 1 time in total.
If I could tell my mom and dad
That the things we never had
Never mattered we were always ok
Getting ready for Christmas day
--Paul Simon

Wallingford
Posts: 4521
Joined: Tue Jul 22, 2003 3:31 pm
Location: Brush, Colorado

Post by Wallingford » Fri Jan 25, 2008 8:31 pm

....and among Stravinsky's works for two players, we simply MUSTN'T forget the utterly delightful Five Easy Pieces and Three Easy Pieces, written for his young son & daughter, both piano students. (Many of these are actually three-hand works!) The pieces' brilliant conception makes Stravinsky a far cleverer writer for keyboard than many credit him as being.

These date from his celebrated ballet period (1910's) and he transcribed them for orchestra three decades later as the Two Suites For Small Orchesrtra.
Last edited by Wallingford on Fri Jan 25, 2008 9:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
If I could tell my mom and dad
That the things we never had
Never mattered we were always ok
Getting ready for Christmas day
--Paul Simon

Brahms
Posts: 110
Joined: Fri Oct 27, 2006 4:21 pm

Post by Brahms » Fri Jan 25, 2008 8:52 pm

keninottawa wrote:By the way, I've gone and ordered the Brahms four-hand versions of the Deutsches Requiem as well as the Symphony no. 1. I'll be sure to give you my analysis once the discs come in the mail!
Also consider Brahms own arrangement of his piano concerto no. 1 in d minor, op. 15, for 4 hands ........

Ken
Posts: 2511
Joined: Thu May 04, 2006 6:17 am
Location: Düsseldorf, Nordrhein-Westfalen

Post by Ken » Thu Jan 31, 2008 6:43 pm

A quick update:

I have received my Symphony No. 1 and Deutsches Requiem for piano four-hands discs. I'm very pleased with the recording of the Symphony, but I think this is because I'm so fond of the work is, and this recording carries with it a significant 'novelty' factor. The middle two movements do not work as well on the piano (it's hard to communicate on a piano the different colours of the 'solo' instruments that play vital roles in the orchestral version of the Symphony), but the first and, especially, last movements are surprisingly effective when played on the piano.

The Deutsches Requiem is an altogether different piece on the piano; it seems as though the music has been stripped bare and the basic melodies and counterpoint come to the fore. The piano transcription does not carry nearly the same degree of animation and dynamic potential as does the original, and for some reason strikes me as altogether more elegiac. At any rate, any fans of Deutsches Requiem should consider this disc just for the 'hmm' factor.
Du sollst schlechte Compositionen weder spielen, noch, wenn du nicht dazu gezwungen bist, sie anhören.

Chalkperson
Disposable Income Specialist
Posts: 17643
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2007 1:19 pm
Location: New York City
Contact:

Post by Chalkperson » Thu Jan 31, 2008 10:18 pm

keninottawa wrote:AThe Deutsches Requiem is an altogether different piece on the piano; it seems as though the music has been stripped bare and the basic melodies and counterpoint come to the fore. The piano transcription does not carry nearly the same degree of animation and dynamic potential as does the original, and for some reason strikes me as altogether more elegiac. At any rate, any fans of Deutsches Requiem should consider this disc just for the 'hmm' factor.
It's like the stripped down version of the Requiem, it just don't sound right...the same thing applies to Rossini's Petit Masse Solomnelle in it's Chamber Version...

slofstra
Posts: 8900
Joined: Mon Jan 08, 2007 2:23 pm
Location: Waterloo, ON, Canada
Contact:

Post by slofstra » Sat Feb 02, 2008 2:56 pm

Good thread. I will quote something I wrote a few months ago on CMG:
Today I broke the shrinkwrap on a new recording of "Ein Deutsches Requiem"/ Choir of King's College, Cambridge/ cond. Stephen Cleobury/ soloists Gritten, Muller-Brachmann.

Since this was a recent recording by the Kings College Choir (KCC), I hoped for something more fluid and expressive than the stodgy type of performance I remember. When I bought this CD I hadn't listened to the requiem in some time.

So first I dusted off an older version led by Colin Davis with the LSO and listened to several movements. That performance is well-varnished, but definitely on the too too solemn side.

With that fresh in my mind, I eagerly cracked the wrap on the new CD. What a surprise when it began to play. I'd forgotten that in this new version the choir is accompanied by two pianoes, no orchestra. It's clear as day on the cover, of course.
This is truly a daring undertaking; if I understand the liner notes correctly, Brahms never intended a choir performance to be undertaken with his transcription to two pianos. I have the Naxos CD of the piano transcription, and rather enjoy it. A great deal of melodic structure is lost in the leviathan of voices and orchestral smudge you'll hear on performances such as the LSO/Davis.

So how does this compare? Well, certain parts really suffer, especially the opening of the Second Movement (Den alles fleisch). No bass violins, no tympani, no woodwinds. One reviewer aptly describes this opening as capturing "the inexorable swing of the reaper's scythe". The KCC version does not. But there is much more drama and expression in the sung parts (which is most of it, of course) , especially at the culmination of the long sweeping arcs Brahms is fond of. Usually, this is good. But on 'Das gras ist verdorret' (still in the 2nd mvt) the KCC goes too far over the top. At times, Brahms score is so ponderous, that the choir really needs to understate the line. But on 'So seid nun geduldig' (still in the second mvt) the music and choir really opens up, and by 'Freude, ewig Freude' I was experiencing the kind of sonic delight I had hoped for.
In general, in the latter parts of the movements the choir and pianos really showcase the melodic complexity that can't be handled well by larger forces. Especially so in the last part of the 6th movement from "Tod, wo ist dein Stachel?" forward.
By comparison, the slower second and last movements, which rely on orchestral colour, really suffer. And in general, one does wish for a cello now and again.
If there existed a quintet rendition with voice, that would be something. This comes close.
So that's another one you can look for. I also like the Brahms transcriptions on Naxos mentioned here. Brahms melodic lines are so dense, (and I think this makes Brahms sound mushy to some ears), the transcriptions foreground the melodies and I like them for this. They offer a certain kind of pleasure but I don't disagree with chalkie either.

And - Bosendorfer, I recently acquire the Argerich Duo Piano Extravaganza. The Rachmaninoff - I forget which piece - was played on the CBC a few months ago, and the CD went on the next Amazon order. It's still sitting there though, begging me to play it. First, more Gould.

Bösendorfer
Posts: 328
Joined: Tue May 01, 2007 6:22 am
Location: NJ

Post by Bösendorfer » Sun Feb 03, 2008 1:08 am

I think you'll enjoy it, Henry! I just happened to listen to it again earlier this week. This time I particularly enjoyed the Mozart Andante with Variations (K501), I didn't remember it like that. I also like the Rachmaninov suite a lot! Bartok's concerto/sonata for 2 pianos and percussion is the one piece I'm less sure about; somehow I've found it hard so far to like Bartok (except for the Concerto for Orchestra, and maybe the 3rd piano concerto).

As for big stacks of cds, I now also have one (although small in comparison): I finally decided to also buy the Stravinsky box, and I haven't regretted it. But I think I'll go through it slowly!

Florian

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 27 guests