Recordings by artists on their own labels usually give a buyer pause, being akin to self-published books. In this case, however, there is nothing to be worried about; there is nothing about this recording that isn't recommendable. The choice of composers in the program is a little odd, but the piano duo of Nina Schumann and Luis Magalhães, the TwoPianists of the label's name, make it work in what is a technically superb and musically fantastic performance. The virtuosic skills of both Schumann and Magalhães is impressive, but the ability to completely energize the music and draw the listener in completely, in such a diverse selection of pieces, is all the more exciting. The arrangement for two pianos by Constantin Silvestri of the Brahms Paganini Variations does at times double up the lines, making for a thicker sound than Brahms' original, but the duo's excellent ensemble playing means that in this case, the sound isn't much denser than it would be on a single piano. They listen to each other, paying attention to every aspect of playing with another person or persons: timing, texture, phrasing, coloring, etc. It's that skillfulness that makes their readings of the two Arensky suites a delight to hear. Arensky's very pianistic writing has idiosyncrasies that can trip up the most talented of pianists, and the ability to handle those smoothly and to bring out all of the character in the music in a way that immediately engages the audience is rare, and is probably why his duo piano music isn't more widely known, even among pianists. The much more well-known works by Lutoslawski and Copland (arranged by Leonard Bernstein from the orchestral work) are just as easily and colorfully performed by the duo. The recording's sound is also excellent, capturing both pianos fully and clearly, although the engineering is slightly on the quiet side, so your speakers may need to be turned up more than usual. Nina Schumann and Luis Magalhães together give this music an appeal that should reach beyond just fans of two piano literature.
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AllMusic Review by Patsy Morita
|Variations on a Theme by Paganini, Op. 35|
|Suite No. 1, Op. 15, for two pianos|
|Suite No. 2, Op. 23 'Silhouettes', for two pianos|