Duo Paratore thoughts on...

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Pianists and Egotism | Precision in Ensemble Playing | Equal Status of a Duo | Duos and Duets |
15 Questions to Anthony and Joseph Paratore

A special on the Klavierfestival Ruhr wouldn't be worth the online space it was taking up without Anthony and Joseph Paratore. For not only are these two brothers part of one of the finest Piano Duos in the world and have worked with Boulez, Ozawa, Solti, von Dohnanyi, Sir Peter Ustinov (for "Carnival of the Animals"), the Boston Symphony and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra (we could yet go on for a while). But they are also one of the Festivals earliest performers and proponents. Which makes sense, as both the festival and the Paratores are always looking for new ideas: Anthony and Joseph have also worked with Jazz-legend Dave Brubeck and enjoy playing pieces especially commissioned for them. Don't miss their performance at the Klavierfestival Ruhr this year!

Go to the interview

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Pianists and Egotism

The piano, more than any other instrument, is principally a solo instrument. Other instrumentatlists are accustomed to playing with one another. This starts usually at the outset of their music training. This is not the case with the pianist, who is used to playing alone. The solo instinct overtakes the sense of ensemble. Pianists are often more egocentric and less inclined toward teamwork. This condition makes it especially challenging for two pianists to make music with one another. We consider it a challenge to break this old clichee.

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Precision in Ensemble Playing
Most people think that the important part of duo-piano playing is to play accurately together. This is not our main concern. Playing rhythmically in sinc and technically exact is for us a given, a fundamental point for a piano duo. It is much more difficult to phrase and interpret the music together thereby making one musical statement, all the while staying flexible and spontaneous. This is the real challenge for us.

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Equal Status of a Duo
Naturally we work on our intepretations together. In any given piece, there are moments when one follows and the other leads and vice-versa. It is a give and take situation. However; that being said, finally a solo experience within the duo.

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Duos and Duets
A duet, that is, one piano/four hands, is completely different than playing at two pianos. Both art forms have advantages and disadvantages and we can not really say which we prefer. When one plays on two pianos, the spectrum of sound is wider and greater, and the balance of sound between the two instruments can be problematic. This takes keen listening and deft pedaling from both players. Moreover every grand piano has its own sound and the different sound qualities have to blend into one homogenous sound. At two pianos, each player is freer and more independent from a technical and physical standpoint. Obviously a space problem does not exist and thus each player plays more comfortably. To sit together at one piano is very different. Often one finds oneself using unusual fingerings and somewhat acrobatic and awkward positions to realize a certain passage. An advantage of four hand playing is its very proximity so that communication between the players is far easier. Sitting together at one piano, we take advantage of this closeness by using body language as well as even whispering to each other when need be. We find both forms of duo-playing fulfilling and challenging in their own right.

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