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Russian & Armenian Music For Two Pianos

Chatschaturjan / Tscherepnin / Duo Reine Elisabeth
Release Date: 01/25/2011 
Label:  Telos   Catalog #: 14   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Aram KhachaturianAlexander TcherepninAlexander Arutiunian
Performer:  Rolf PlaggeWolfgang Manz
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

KHACHATURIAN Spartacus: Suite. Gayaneh: Suite. TCHEREPIN Fantasy for 2 Pianos. ARUTIUNIAN-BABADSHANIAN Armenian Rhapsody Rolf Plagge, Wolfgang Manz (pn) TELOS TLS 014 (70:22)

Here is a recital of Armenian- and Asian-influenced music played by a pair of Germans in an ensemble named after a Read more Belgian queen (Duo Reine Elisabeth). And it all works out just fine. Rolf Plagge and Wolfgang Manz start out with the most famous music by an Armenian composer, suites from Aram Khachaturian’s ballets Spartacus and Gayaneh , including the good old “Saber Dance.” Their playing of that potboiler is a good model for what they do with the rest of the program. They treat it as real music, absent bombast and gaudiness, with an emphasis on the striking melodic and rhythmic gestures, and at a pace that is comfortable enough to observe some of Khachaturian’s subtle inner workings. The “Saber Dance” subtle? Yes, when it is presented in such a fresh manner, not as a screeching locomotive. Plagge and Manz allow me to hear this most familiar of music in a new light and with new appreciation.

Elsewhere, the duo’s smart and stylish approach realizes similar results. The Fantasy of Alexander Tcherepin was written in 1947, during the Russian-born composer’s time in China. This globetrotter also lived in Japan, studied in Paris, and eventually settled in the United States, where his long teaching career at De Paul University produced students including Phillip Ramey and Robert Muczynski. This lovely music, not surprisingly, features strong Asian harmonic influences, with an extended opening movement, “Eastern Chamber Dream,” that is dreamy indeed. The piano sound is enriched with subtle percussion effects. The Armenian Rhapsody is a Soviet-era product of a cooperative compositional team. It is a sort of catalog of Armenian folk-music elements, nicely capturing the sense of the alluring and rather exotic Asian/European blending that characterizes the culture of that country. It is an appropriate closer to this completely successful international venture.

FANFARE: Peter Burwasser
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Works on This Recording

Spartacus Suites: Excerpt(s) by Aram Khachaturian
Performer:  Rolf Plagge (Piano), Wolfgang Manz (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1955-1967; USSR 
Gayaneh: Suite by Aram Khachaturian
Performer:  Rolf Plagge (Piano), Wolfgang Manz (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1943; USSR 
Fantasy for 2 Pianos by Alexander Tcherepnin
Performer:  Rolf Plagge (Piano), Wolfgang Manz (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1947; Russia 
Armenian Rhapsody for 2 Pianos by Alexander Arutiunian
Performer:  Rolf Plagge (Piano), Wolfgang Manz (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1950; Armenia 

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