WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org

Mind Meld - Works For Piano Four Hands / Zofo Duet

Bernstein / Shapero / Stravinsky / Zofo Duet
Release Date: 04/24/2012 
Label:  Sono Luminus   Catalog #: 92151  
Composer:  Claude DebussyLeonard BernsteinHarold ShaperoIgor Stravinsky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  ZOFO Duet
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  


Notes and Editorial Reviews



STRAVINSKY The Rite of Spring. SHAPERO Sonata for Piano 4-Hands. DEBUSSY 6 Épigraphes Antiques & Eva-Maria Zimmermann, Keisuke Nakagoshi (pn) SONO LUMINUS DSL 92151 (67:28)


& BERNSTEIN Candide: Overture

Read more
These two fine pianists have been playing together under the name Zofo since 2009, and have toured America and Japan. They display tight ensemble and are of one mind in matters of tempo and expression, as duo-piano teams need to be, without having the individuality of the drily austere Kontarsky brothers or the showy and virtuosic Labèque sisters. (But then, Zimmermann and Nakagoshi are not twins!)


Their program contains some interesting music. I have never been fully convinced of the worth of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring in a four-hand piano transcription. From the very first bars, which depend so much on the unique sound of the bassoon in its high register, this work needs the colors and weight of an orchestra. Even so, this arrangement has been recorded several times, most notably for Angel by the young Michael Tilson Thomas and Ralph Grierson in an exciting and convincing account. Zofo is by comparison rather straightforward. While they find the primitive energy the score demands, they are at their best in quiet moments like the opening of the Second Part, The Sacrifice . In Charlie Harmon’s arrangement of Bernstein’s overture to Candide they are bright and thankfully not rushed (as some orchestral versions are), but again I find the music does not gain a lot from being experienced in black and white.


The best parts of this program are the pieces originally intended for the medium. Debussy’s languorous Épigraphs Antiques are ideal for this duo, which responds winningly to the subtle colors and delicacy of the writing. I would go so far as to say this is the finest recording I know of this sensual work. The real find, however, is the four-hand sonata by Harold Shapero, an American composer who was a contemporary of Bernstein and is still with us (as of this writing) at the age of 92. As a young man Shapero studied with Krenek, Piston, and Hindemith, but his most distinguished teacher was Nadia Boulanger. This three-movement, 16-minute sonata shows the influence of Stravinsky overall, unsurprisingly, in its sharp edged textures and rhythms, yet there is also a lyrical impulse that I can only describe as American. Like the best of the American neoclassicists, Shapero took a pared-back, unemotional European style and brought warmth to it. The piece was premiered in 1941 by the composer and Bernstein, who played two-piano and four-hand music together for a few years until Lenny became too busy with other projects. (Indeed, there is more than a hint of Bernstein in a couple of Shapero’s melodic figures.) Zofo responds to both the hard edge and the underlying lyricism, and once again the tempos seem absolutely right.


The sound quality is excellent, spacious and clear. Recommended, particularly for the Debussy and the Shapero.


FANFARE: Phillip Scott
Read less

Works on This Recording

1. Epigraphes antiques (6) by Claude Debussy
Orchestra/Ensemble:  ZOFO Duet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1914; France 
2. Candide: Overture by Leonard Bernstein
Orchestra/Ensemble:  ZOFO Duet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1956; USA 
3. Sonata for Piano 4 Hands by Harold Shapero
Orchestra/Ensemble:  ZOFO Duet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1941; USA 
4. Le sacre du printemps by Igor Stravinsky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  ZOFO Duet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1911-1913 

Sound Samples

Candide: Overture (arr. C. Harmon): Overture
Piano Sonata for 4 hands: I. Very slowly -
Piano Sonata for 4 hands: II. Slowly -
Piano Sonata for 4 hands: III. Fast -
6 Epigraphes antiques: No. 1. Pour invoquer Pan
6 Epigraphes antiques: No. 2. Pour un tombeau sans nom
6 Epigraphes antiques: No. 3. Pour que la nuit soit propice
6 Epigraphes antiques: No. 4. Pour la danseuse aux crotales
6 Epigraphes antiques: No. 5. Pour l'egyptienne
6 Epigraphes antiques: No. 6. Pour remercier la pluie au matin
Le sacre du printemps (The Rite of Spring) (version for piano 4 hands): Part I: Adoration of the Earth: Introduction -
Le sacre du printemps (The Rite of Spring) (version for piano 4 hands): Part I: Adoration of the Earth: The Augurs of Spring - Dances of the Young Girls -
Le sacre du printemps (The Rite of Spring) (version for piano 4 hands): Part I: Adoration of the Earth: Ritual of Abduction -
Le sacre du printemps (The Rite of Spring) (version for piano 4 hands): Part I: Adoration of the Earth: Spring Rounds -
Le sacre du printemps (The Rite of Spring) (version for piano 4 hands): Part I: Adoration of the Earth: Ritual of the River Tribes -
Le sacre du printemps (The Rite of Spring) (version for piano 4 hands): Part I: Adoration of the Earth: Procession of the Sage -
Le sacre du printemps (The Rite of Spring) (version for piano 4 hands): Part I: Adoration of the Earth: The Sage -
Le sacre du printemps (The Rite of Spring) (version for piano 4 hands): Part I: Adoration of the Earth: Dance of the Earth
Le sacre du printemps (The Rite of Spring) (version for piano 4 hands): Part II: The Sacrifice: Introduction -
Le sacre du printemps (The Rite of Spring) (version for piano 4 hands): Part II: The Sacrifice: Mystic Circles of the Young Girls -
Le sacre du printemps (The Rite of Spring) (version for piano 4 hands): Part II: The Sacrifice: Glorification of the Chosen One -
Le sacre du printemps (The Rite of Spring) (version for piano 4 hands): Part II: The Sacrifice: Evocation of the Ancestors -
Le sacre du printemps (The Rite of Spring) (version for piano 4 hands): Part II: The Sacrifice: Ritual Action of the Ancestors -
Le sacre du printemps (The Rite of Spring) (version for piano 4 hands): Part II: The Sacrifice: Sacrificial Dance

Customer Reviews

Be the first to review this title
Review This Title
Review This Title Share on Facebook