GrauSchumacher Piano Duo

Kosmos

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AllMusic Review by

In this fascinating collection of twentieth century works for two pianos or piano four-hands, the GrauSchumacher Piano Duo nests its centerpiece, Peter Eötvös' Kosmos, in the middle of the album, with short works from suites by four other composers flanked around it. Immediately surrounding it are movements from Bartók's Seven Pieces for Two Pianos from Mikrokosmos (1939). Preceding and following the Bartók are movements from Stockhausen's Tierkreis (Zodiac) (1975-1976). Around those are movements from Kurtág's ongoing series Játékok (begun in 1973), and the album opens and closes with movements from Crumb's Celestial Mechanics (Makrokosmos IV) (1979), subtitled Cosmic Dances. The "cosmic" theme is pretty clear -- even some of the Kurtág pieces have to do with stars and with infinity. The program is brilliantly structured; it has a clear and meaningful trajectory that situates the Eötvös as a piece with the specific gravity to justify the placement of the other briefer but far more famous works circling around it as commentary on it. Eötvös wrote Kosmos when he was 17, in response to Yuri Gagarin's space flight. It's a colorful, evocative piece that inventively conjures up images of the mystery and vastness of space, as well as the sparkling delicacy of the celestial bodies as we experience them in the night sky. In spite of the diversity of tonal languages used here, those characteristics -- mystery, vastness, and delicacy -- are found in varying degrees in all the pieces on the album, giving it an especially satisfying atmospheric unity. The mystical, twinkling filigree of the movements from Tierkreis (originally written for music boxes) is particularly suggestive of a field of stars, while the movements from Celestial Mechanics, with their amplification and use of extended techniques, such as playing inside the piano, have an expansive grandeur. Andreas Grau and Götz Schumacher, who have been performing together since they were teenagers, play with consummate assurance, finesse, and tremendous energy. The sound of Neos' SACD is absolutely clean, with an appropriately open spaciousness. While the CD should certainly be of strong interest to fans of new piano music, the pieces have such an immediate aural appeal that it deserves to attract a broad range of listeners.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Celestial Mechanics (Makrokosmos 4)
1 3:30 Amazon
2 3:48 Amazon
Játékok
3 0:31
4 0:59
5 0:36
Tierkreis - 12 Melodien der Sternzeichen
6 1:45
7 1:38
Mikrokosmos (7 pieces for 2 pianos, Nos. 1-3)
8 1:14
9 1:10
10 1:12
11 12:42
Mikrokosmos (7 pieces for 2 pianos, Nos. 4-7)
12 0:56
13 1:01
14 1:10
15 2:27
Tierkreis - 12 Melodien der Sternzeichen
16 2:26
17 1:39
Játékok
18 1:03
19 0:45
20 2:07
Celestial Mechanics (Makrokosmos 4)
21 6:13 Amazon
22 8:50 Amazon
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