Albertine Votapek / Ralph Votapek

From Mozart to Piazzolla

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Whether through original composition or artful transcription, many composers have produced works from two pianos or piano four-hands. This program of such works by husband and wife Ralph and Albertine Votapek is a testimony to the broad repertoire available for this instrumental combination. The Votapek duo possesses many admirable qualities. For starters, the stylistic changes they demonstrate are rather impressive; their Mozart is elegant and refined without being stodgy, Schubert is brooding and pensive, Debussy is expansive and luxurious, and Piazzolla is fiery and riveting. Having played together since they met as students at the Juilliard School, the interplay between the two pianists is also extremely dynamic, fluid, and refined. Every articulation is precisely executed, every phrase seamlessly carried out, and subtle shifts in tempo and dynamics are effortlessly united. Alas, despite all of these artful elegances in the Votapeks' performances, the two-piano combination is a difficult beast to capture on an album. Balance and clarity are notoriously difficult to master and this CD doesn't quite rise to the task. Quiet and thinly scored passages are clear, but once the dynamics go up or the complexity of the score increases, individual notes from both pianos become difficult to distinguish.

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