Joseph Paratore

20th Century Music for Two Pianos [DVD Video]

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20th Century Music for Two Pianos [DVD Video] Review

by Mike D. Brownell

Joseph and Anthony Paratore form an exceptional two-piano duo. Their playing blends together almost seamlessly and if you're not watching the screen, it becomes impossible to discern any line between the two. They share a singular musical vision for all of the works performed on this DVD and their ample techniques easily deliver all of the detailed nuance required. With such wonderful performances from technical and musical standpoints, the assessment of this DVD turns to the successfulness of the transcriptions heard on it. The on-screen liner notes make the claim that the two-piano version of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, for example, is every bit as engaging and powerful as the full orchestral version. Individual listeners' opinions may vary, but this declaration hardly seems plausible. While this performance is certainly energetic, it's doubtful it would have had the same effect on audiences as the orchestral premiere. The same applies to the Gershwin Concerto in F and Rhapsody in Blue; the same colors simply cannot be delivered as the full orchestral version. The one piece on the program that truly does succeed, though, is the Ives Three Quarter-Tone Pieces. The two prepared pianos together create a wonderfully haunting, eerie sound. The pure digital sound of the recording only enhances this experience. If you're one prone to enjoying transcriptions of orchestral works, then this DVD might be for you. Otherwise, get it for the Ives and skip the rest.