Conductor Andrew Litton and the National Symphony Orchestra threw a musical party at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall last night, and Arthur Ferrante and Louis Teicher were the guests of honor. This most famous piano duo did not disappoint with their program, a potpourri of film scores, light classics and beloved popular songs.
Dressed as if they had come straight from a Liberace's wardrobe fire sale, the duo strode onstage sporting metallic blue-green tuxedos; visually they looked the epitome of their performance. From the opening medley from Bock's "Fiddler on the Roof" through their arrangement of "A Trip Around the World," the duo glistened, echoing each other, analyzing, complementing and redefining the selections' emotional appeal and subconscious associations to maximum effect.
The most surprising--and enlightening for Ferrante and Teicher skeptics--selection was their first encore, "African Echoes," in which they plucked their pianos' strings, rhythmically beat the soundboards like bongos, and produced harp-like sounds by strumming. Their 29 years and 3,000 concerts together have been fruitful; not only do they look alike, they are intuitively sympathetic to each other's nuances, creating fresh, new insights from the overwrought and familiar.
Litton and the NSO opened the program with Glinka's Overture to "Ruslan and Ludmila" and a somewhat overwrought, boisterous interpretation of Gershwin's "An American in Paris," conducted in a gangbusters tempo.