Parnassius Piano Duo offer "real treat" in Chichester - review

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Review by Chris Linford

The Funtington Music Group were given a real treat on 11 March at the University of Chichester when they welcomed the Parnassius Piano Duo. The concert took place in the Chapel where the University has two splendid Steinways which were the centre of the concert.

Simon Callaghan and Hiroaki Takenouchi were the two fine pianists, and they had chosen to open the concert with only the second or third performance in the UK of the Sonata for Two Pianos in C Minor by Percy Sherwood. This English composer was working in Germany at the time of its composition in 1890 as a Professor in the Dresden Conservatory.

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The first movement started at full throttle and was played with a controlled whirling frenzy from the start. The Duo played the second movement with a tenderness and romance that was a happy interlude before the vibrancy and exuberance of the Finale. The Sonata is a little known work in European music but it was played with such enthusiasm and gusto that at its end the audience were very complimentary in their applause.

After the interval the Duo played Rachmaninov’s Suite No 2 for Two Pianos Opus 17. This piece was written in 1901, just after Rachmaninov had recovered from the disaster of the first performance of his First Symphony. As Simon Callaghan said in his introduction, “Rachmaninov was very skilful in writing for two pianos as neither piano is the dominant and the music is shared equally.”

Simon Callagahn and Hiroaki Takenouchi had met in 2003 and their mutual understanding can not be overstated as in the Rachmaninov they together created a masterpiece of immaculate coordination and musical virtuosity. Technically dazzling, nothing seemed out of reach or impossible, either emotionally or artistically. The audience loved their performance.

Chris Hough, Chairman of Funtington Music Group, said, “This was a wonderful performance by two extremely talented pianists. It was a pleasure to hear Sherwood’s unjustly neglected piece, and a joy hear Rachmaninov’s marvellous music. A truly memorable evening.”

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Further details of the Funtington Music Group can be obtained from the Membership Secretary, Mrs Elizabeth Brooks, on 01 243 378900.

Chris Linford