Invencia Piano Duo, Palms Away...
The Invencia Piano Duo was featured in concert at Huguenot Road Baptist Church this evening in a 4 hands piano concert which ranged from Schubert and Brahms to Ravel, Gottschalk and a "ragtime" palms away encore. I am not a piano scholar and the program was not printed, so please forgive any errors in the details of the composition names.
This concert was presented in an interesting manner which is far from typical in my experience of concert piano recitals. The concert Baldwin at HRBC is boxed off of the choir loft, as is typical in so many churches. This elevated box obscures both sound and visual lines. To compensate, HRBC used a video camera to provide a closeup view of the keyboard, which was then fed to a projector screen at center stage. This visual element/TV experience viewing of a live concert recital was strangely irritating and intriguing at the same time. It seemed to drag my focus away from the artists themselves and onto the MTV view of their "floating hands" above the keyboard. I was frequently seduced into the screen and the view of the hands, to the detriment of the facial expressions of the artists' themselves. After the intermission, I moved my position in the sanctuary and this was quite effective. Without the screen front and center in my visual field, I was much better able to experience the music. The added benefit was my shift in the hall, positioned me directly in front of the piano and the clarity and energy generated by the instrument were radically different to my ears.
The program, expertly played by Invencia, was interesting and thoughtfully presented with engaging commentary by Andrey Kasparov. The early Schubert marches evoked an atmosphere of regal pomp and circumstance blended with the demure elegance of a Viennese ball. My favorite piece of the evening was Ravel's Mother Goose suite. The dynamics and stunning pianissimos of the upper register created a feeling of space and distance which touched my heart intensely. The fluid chiming of the bells and the "out of time" feeling of the second movement reminded me of Gianni Schicchi with its timeless appeal. The Fairy Garden, "last movement" reminded me of both Copland and Mussorgsky in Fanfare and Great gates of Kiev.. The vignettes and pictures presented by these artists were clear and engaging. Their passion was unquestioned as they shared their talents.
The Gottschalk which was their closing masterpiece was a Euro-American blending with elements reminiscent of Offenbach, Strauss and even a little Bizet(to this opera singer's ears). The rhythmic context and control of the flowing arpeggios and scales was virtuostically played, intermingling flamboyance and joy.
The audience was warm and inviting, and my daughters (9 and 10) were engaged quite effectively by the combination of video and the rich aural textures of 4 hands live piano. I must admit, that my early skepticism with the video model was largely overcome. I enjoyed the concert and this piano duo was certainly worth an evening of my precious time. (even in competition with the Daytona 500)
If you have a chance to see and hear them, don't miss it. I might even be able to pull off that encore piece, which was palms and forearms away... through and through...