Mozart: Sonatas for piano four hands – up close and personal at the keyboard

Ferenc Rados and Kirill Gerstein achieve a rare intimacy on these duets for one piano

Mozart Sonatas for piano four hands in C K521, in F K497
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Artist: Ferenc Rados, Kirill Gerstein
Genre: Classical
Label: Myrios Classics MYR029

Piano duets hardly figure in most people’s consideration of chamber music. Works for two violins, two cellos, two flutes, or any single instrument with piano seem for some reason to excite music lovers much more than anything that places two people at one keyboard. Maybe it’s the restriction to a single instrument that’s the problem. However, in terms of musical intimacy two players at one keyboard are about as close as you can physically get, and there are works which specifically ask for the overlapping of hands.

This new album of two of Mozart’s greatest works for the medium is a homage to duetting and also the octogenarian Hungarian pianist Ferenc Rados, who Kirill Gerstein calls “the single most influential person in my musical life and the one with whom I have studied the longest”.

The eulogistic notes in the album’s booklet present Rados as insightful and lovable in spite of an unyieldingly dark outlook on life. With Gerstein he has created substantial, repeat-rich accounts of two staggeringly rich sonatas, in which the duo give the impression of delivering a special kind of non-performance – the music as the players want to hear it just for themselves.

Michael Dervan

Michael Dervan

Michael Dervan is a music critic and Irish Times contributor