Duo pianists are a rare breed, and even rarer are those as exciting as Anthony and Joseph Paratore. Yesterday at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall, the two brothers danced through Mozart, Schubert, Lutoslawski and Mussorgsky on one and two pianos in an afternoon of musical delights.
From Mozart's Sonata in B-flat major K. 358 for piano four-hands, through Mussorgsky's inevitable blockbuster "Pictures at an Exhibition," the music of the Paratores shared the rhythm of a single heartbeat, their phrasing shone with musical threads of a single seamless cloth. Even in the earlier works, where the sound of today's concert grand can do much harm to the composer's intentions, these pianists found delicacy within the most powerful sonorities.
I had never heard Lutoslawski's Variations on a Theme by Paganini before this concert, and I am glad I finally did. This short 1941 score for two pianos is tame for Lutoslawski but light years away from Rachmaninoff's beloved variations on the same theme. By the third variation clouds of eerie harmonics hover over the melody, as even the quiet moments anticipate developing storms. The Paratores were persuasive and powerful, as violent syncopations came and went with brutal speed and ended almost too soon.