Impassioned Lovers Wrestle As One (Pianist)!

Igor Stravinsky was the original rock'n'roller and if you don't think so, you don't know rock'n'roll or Stravinsky!

Stravinsky arranged "Le Sacre Du Printemps" (The Rite of Spring), "Petrouchka" and other ballets for both orchestra and four handed piano. Sivan Silver and Gil Garburg are an Israeli piano duo and married couple now living in Berlin who perform both pieces on this double LP set with breathtaking intensity on "The Rite of Spring"'s opening "The Adoration of the Earth" while imbuing the beginning of "The Sacrifice" with appropriate mystery and darkness and the more raucous later sections with all due violence.

The couple has performed all over the world—Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher, the Sydney Opera House and the Berlin Philharmonie, among other venues. They have played in approximately seventy countries on all five continents and regularly collaborate with the Israel Philharmonic, the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonic so they're hardly new to this, though this is their Berlin Classics debut.

Stravinsky wrote "The Rite of Spring" between 1911 and 1913. One hundred years later it remains as audacious and outrageous as ever, though today it's revered rather than reviled as it was at its Paris debut.

I don't know about you, but for me there's something very sensual about a married couple sitting at a piano, bodies touching, hands intertwined, playing as one. Their communication must at this point be utterly natural and in tune in a most intimate as well as musical way. It comes across that way on record.

This wasn't lost on whoever packaged this release because the cover art is, as you can see, more like a pop music than a classical music release. The front cover is all about the hands. The back cover is a bit more intimate but both photos exude an interconnectedness only a married couple could manage—as does their playing together.

I don't pretend to be a student of what I assume to be the many piano recordings of these pieces, nor have I ever pretended to be a classical music expert. I just know what I like and what I like to hear and on that uninformed basis I can say that I have turned down the lights and sat through and enjoyed listening numerous times to all four sides of this release, distributed in America by Naxos.

By my less than well informed standards the youthful couple's high energy performances combine cleanliness and precision with free-flowing, highly expressive exuberance. These are ballet pieces and the couple makes them leap.

Yes, this is a digital 24 bit recording transferred to vinyl so why do that when you can buy the CD? Do I have to answer that here? I hope not. Was this just the CD transferred to vinyl or the 24 bit recording transferred to vinyl? I don't know, though I hope for the latter, especially because the sense of three dimensional space is generous and the image of the piano, palpable and well-focused on the stage. The piano's sattack is delicate and complex and not at all "tinkly" and dry. The sustain and decay are generous. I don't have any CDs that sound like this so either it was cut from a high resolution file, or the sound quality is the result of "additive distortions". If the latter, they are welcome.

In any case, the recording is superb, helped in great part by the venue, which is the Sendesaal Bremen—a concert hall/performance space/recording studio built in 1952 by Radio Bremen and formerly called "Radio Bremen broadcasting hall (Studio F) that was saved from the wrecking ball.

So rather than being one of those clangy-sounding small studio, closely miked recordings, this one is spacious and natural-sounding with the piano well-back in space (regardless of how close the mikes were to it) and intensely but naturally focused in that space. There's a wealth of colors and textures as well as wide dynamic contrasts. It sounds minimally miked, so that the piano is plain to "see" as is the reverberant space around it. The attack, sustain and decay are ideally portrayed, which results in an utterly natural and convincing stage upon which can be "seen" the piano in three dimensions.

You can be sure the recording is a bitch to track so if you hear clicking and break-up, it's your rig not the recording. Highly recommended for music, performance, sound and excellent German pressing quality. Nothing can be worse than an eccentrically pressed, noisy piano record. This one produced absolutely silent backgrounds and all four sides were perfectly concentric. I got the sense that rather than a release designed to take advantage of "the vinyl thing", the producers were committed to the format.

Available directly from Naxos, with free shipping for $27.99 and well-worth it.

(Headline lifted from opening of The Moody Blues' Days of Future Past if you're not familiar).

Consoleman's picture

You haven't let me down yet!

mauidj's picture

$18 on Amazon. I'm all over this :-) Thanks Michael.

Analog Aecad's picture

Can't say enough Michael, but thank you! :)

madfloyd's picture

Thanks, I'm sure I will enjoy this.

audiof001's picture

I've been looking for a piano version of both these pieces. Thanks for the heads up, MF!

tames's picture

Along with 2 other offerings from their site...
Vaughn Williams - A London Symphony
The Singers Unlimited: Christmas

mrl1957's picture

...but the headline is from the final "Night" sequence of the Moody's DOFP. Sorry, Mike.