University of Chicago Presents DUO TAL & GROETHUYSEN Review – Two + Two = An Orchestra

Universtity of Chicago DUO TAL & GROETHUYSEN

Mandel Hall, home of many of the University of Chicago Presents series, is one of the University’s oldest buildings, the Quadrangle, completed 120 years ago.  Refreshed in 2013, the theater is, in this writer’s view, ideal for musical presentations – each note of the pianos could be distinctly savored; the seats are comfy; the restrooms are near; and best of all, free street parking is usually available on Friday nights.

Universtity of Chicago DUO TAL & GROETHUYSEN
Universtity of Chicago DUO TAL & GROETHUYSEN

DUO TAL & GROETHUYSEN Transport You to the Music Parlor

DUO TAL & GROETHUYSEN offer homage to the rise of the middle class in the 18th century and the treasured parlor piano. Their professional playing, however, far exceeds that of parlor musicians. From the program notes we learn that Bach, Mozart and Handel created orchestral works under royal patronage.  Such orchestral works were rarely heard outside of royal musical circles, or in cities with orchestras.  Creative publishers seized on the opportunity, commissioned piano versions, and sold them to pianists across Europe looking for challenge and parlor performance repertoire.  Most pieces were four-handed, one-piano because of the imitative lushness that this could create.  Also, most families had only one piano.  Generally, these are musical pieces of virtuosity, lacking only the tonal smoothing of strings, horns and woodwinds.  DUO TAL & GROETHUYSEN seized the challenge and rendered interpretations, which in this reviewer’s opinion, were on par with the originals.  Wagner’s Overture to Tannhauser, repurposed by the composer, was every bit as awesome as the orchestral version, and perhaps more so when you imagined the crashing chords played in a small chamber.

Universtity of Chicago DUO TAL & GROETHUYSEN

DUO TAL & GROETHUYSEN’s Pianos Rival the Orchestra

There is also a large collection of orchestral pieces transcribed for duo pianos.  After intermission, the pianos were juxtaposed such that the pianists were facing each other.   They then dove into Debussy’s La Mer.  This orchestral piece embraces all the facets of the sea— from tranquil, to playful, to massive destruction. The transcriber, Andre Caplet, as the program notes explained, “writes out gossamer-like piano figurations and tremolos for the pianists to play shaped by subtle dynamic shadings, pedal fluttering, and judicious use of the sustain and una corda pedals. All of these are pianistic techniques that can help the pianists to convey – or perhaps, to conjure – orchestral sounds in the ears of listeners.”

DUO TAL & GROETHUYSEN only appeared one night uplifting all with their talent and the beauty of their program selections.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

For more information on upcoming concerts, visit the University of Chicago Presents website.

Photos courtesy of University of Chicago

Ann Boland
Portrait by Paul Sierra

Reviewer Ann Boland is committed to Chicago theater. Involved in the audience since the early 80’s, she’s witnessed firsthand the rise of our theater scene, our exceptional local talent, and the vigor of each new generation.  Ann handles public relations for authors and works on programs to help seniors with neurological movement disorders.  Please visit her website for more information.  

 

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