At its climax, which came in Ravel's "Rapsodie Espagnole," Saturday night's concert at the Wolf Trap Barns was a delight to the eye as well as the ear, with four hands on the piano keyboard often looking and sounding more like eight. For this number, duo pianists Steven and Nadya Gordon sat side by side at a Boesendorfer piano, producing showers of notes that sparkled like fireworks and crossing their arms in terribly complicated patterns as the music drove each of them into the other's territory. Ravel is famous for his sense of color, but watching the octopus-like contortions he imposed on his performers in this work, you couldn't help admiring his sense of humor even more.
The hands of the husband-wife team did not have this kind of traffic problem in the rest of the program, which they played at two pianos, but the coordination was equally precise in the "Andalusian Dances" of Manuel Infante, Rachmaninoff's Suite No. 2 for two pianos, Mozart's sonata in D, K. 448, and Ravel's "La Valse," which brought the program to a spectacular conclusion.
There were occasional wrong notes and brief moments when one piano drowned out the other, but the overall effect was brilliant, classically poised and beautifully lyric. The Rachmaninoff suite, in particular, was made to sound like one of his most attractive compositions. The sound of two matched Boesendorfers is a rare and glorious thing anywhere, but it was particularly splendid in the ideal acoustics of this hall.
Washington originally was not on the itinerary of the tour that the Gordons concluded here with their 49th concert in the past few months during travels of more than 20,000 miles. But if this benefit performance for Wolf Trap is a fair sample of their work, we should hope to hear them frequently here in the future.