I require my students in piano class and introduction to music literature to attend an approved concert and write a review. At beginning of the Fall 2013 Semester, much to my surprise and consternation, I could only find one piano concert listed at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center (MACC) for the 17 weeks in between August and early December.
The date of Sunday 17th November 2013 became engraved on everyone’s calendars. The piano duo Anderson and Roe was scheduled to give one performance that afternoon in the MACC.
Seeing the young couple perform was a case of exploring the exciting possibilities of piano duo playing. How many ways can two pianists play together?
- They can play on one piano
- They can play on two pianos
- They can play on the inside of one and/or two pianos
- They can take turns sitting in front of a piano and play
- They can criss cross their hands at one piano
I never knew such possibilities when I was sightreading music for piano duet (on one piano) and duo (on two pianos). Anderson and Roe have taken it to a new level. They compose and arrange works for their own indulgence — and what fun it was! From the moment they appeared on stage, it was a roller coaster ride for the audience —- nonstop excitement.
They distilled Mozart’s comic opera Cosi Fan Tutte into an elixir of sheer joy in a four movement piano duet work they arranged. The theme of the first half was love — comic, serious and tragic (Rachmaninoff’s Suite No. 1 Fantasie Tableaux for Two Pianos), and modern (Radiohead’s Paranoid Android – their own composition). In the second half, they made JS Bach a rock star through Max Reger’s arrangement of his Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G Major. Their own rendition of so-called “Animal Suite” included their version of Scarlatti’s famous Cat’s Fugue, Saint-Saens’ Le Cygne from Carnival des Animaux, and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumblebee.
There was not a moment of pause or boredom as they introduced and linked each work to the next. I enjoyed the final piece most of all — their version of Bizet’s Carmen as Fantasy for Two Pianos. I had once researched the different variations and fantasies for piano solo and duo of Carmen. Their version beats them all.
For encore, they did two. Piazolla’s Libertango — Roe damped the strings inside the piano while Anderson played the introduction to this well-loved work. Now I did remember the other encore but forgot to write it down. Hopefully someone who went to this concert can help me on this one. Lesson: write a review as soon as you finish attending the concert. Anderson and Roe give a unique take on how to listen on their website: music listening – an incomplete manifesto.