Thursday, July 26, 2012

Libertango - Ferhan & Ferzan Önder

In August of 2010 this blog commented that for Piazzolla's works, one pianist never seems to be enough. It remains true that there are essentially no concert quality, solo piano arrangements of Piazzolla's quintet catalog; but, the list of concert quality arrangements for duo pianists, whether on one or two pianos, continues to grow including the Libertango example in today's blog provided by the piano duo,  Ferhan & Ferzan Önder.

The Önder sisters, of Turkish ancestry, call Vienna home and maintain a teaching studio there but from a look at their schedule it would appear that their students may have a lot of time to practice between lessons.  They have toured extensively in Europe, Asia and America and I see South America on their 2012 calendar. Their repertoire is extremely broad, Bach to Busoni to Balakirev and, of course, Brahms and Beethoven. However, you will not find Piazzolla on their repertoire list - I suspect he is reserved for that light, flashy encore that audiences always enjoy.

You will find much of their serious repertoire in their six CD's but sadly very little video is available of their work. Today's video comes from an April, 2012 appearance on a French television program, Arte Lounge. There is a second video from that same broadcast in which they perform Wintermorgan in Istanbul by Fazil Say.  I strongly encourage you to watch that video - it is a better work of music than Libertango and it shows much better the breadth of talent of the Önder sisters. They play with remarkable precision and display a wide range of dynamic touch but it is the emotional intensity they bring to their playing that creates a direct link to the listener which commands attention and ultimately, delivers pleasure.

But, regular readers of this blog will know that it is rarely the virtuosity of the musicians that leads me to linger on a video long enough to write about it - it is usually the arrangement. Through a personal communication with the Önder sisters, I learned that their arrangement of Libertango is by the Greek pianist and composer Achilleas Wastor.  I can find very little information about Mr. Wastor other than that he is a frequent accompanist to famous Greek mezzo-soprano, Agnes Baltsa.   I would like to hear more of his work.  Perhaps he can create those much needed concert quality, piano arrangements of Piazzolla's Seasons. His Libertango arrangement is very imaginative and challenging in a way that kept my interest to the very end. There are many arrangements of Libertango for four hands.  I am going to add Mr. Wastor's to my list of favorites which include those of: DuoalleviguidiAnderson & RoeKyoko YamamotoPablo Ziegler, and Uli Rennert.

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