Pierce & Jonas Piano Duo

Rachmaninov: Symphonic Dances

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Composers have frequently turned to the use of two pianos for a variety of reasons. For some, it was a way to further market their compositions to a broader base of consumers. Sometimes it was a practical necessity, as in the case of Shostakovich, who reduced several of his late symphonies to two piano versions as a portable method of gaining performance approval from the Soviet government without any real notion that they would be performed in that format again. And of course there are those who composed specifically for the two-piano medium. This MSR Classics album features a program with a selection from each of these categories. The compilation, performed by longtime duo Joshua Pierce and Dorothy Jonas, was originally released in 1990 from recordings made as far back as 1979. The Pierce & Jonas Duo is one of the most long-standing and successful piano duos for a good reason: they easily overcome the comparison to orchestral versions of the same works, fully exploring the range of colors and effects possible with two pianos. Their greatest performance attribute, however, is their remarkable control over dynamic pacing. This is noticeable even from the first track on this disc, in which they begin with very subdued, almost bland dynamics. By the height of the movement, they are producing almost unbelievable amounts of sound, rich in color and nuance. This same level of explosive excitement permeates every track on the album, making it an excellent selection for fans of this genre.

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