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The French-American Piano Society Presents a Two Piano Extravaganza at Steinway Hall
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The French-American Piano Society Presents a Two Piano Extravaganza at Steinway Hall

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2019 Two Piano Extravaganza

French-American Piano Society
www.french-american-piano.org

Audrey Abela
Matthieu Cognet
Alexandra Joan
Francois-Xavier Poizat

at
Steinway Hall
(Steinway Hall Website)
1133 Avenue of the Americas
NY, NY 10036
www.steinway.com

212.332.0122
kbeluso@steinway.com

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
June 21, 2019


Program:
Richard Wagner, The Ride of the Valkyries (arr. by C. Chevillard)
Frédéric Chopin, Rondo for Two Pianos, Op. 73
W.A. Mozart, Overture from The Marriage of Figaro
Carl Czerny, Les Trois Amateurs (Fantasie on Mozart Arias)
Paul Dukas, L’Apprenti Sorcier (arr. for four hands by I. Roques)
S. Rachmaninov, Waltz and Romance
S. Rachmaninov, From Symphonic Dances, Op. 45: No. 1 (Non Allegro)
Witold Lutoslawski, Paganini Variations
Bedrich Smetana, Sonata for 2 Pianos 8 Hands


Tonight’s concert at the new Steinway Hall was packed with fans of the iconic grand Steinway pianos, as well as the French-American Piano Society. This was my first experience at the new Steinway Hall at 1133 Avenue of the Americas, and the spaciousness and ambiance were enthralling. Gorgeous Steinways are situated in the street level lobby as well as private viewing and practice rooms. The décor and historical photos and art work are remarkable. I was greeted by the vibrant pianist, Matthieu Cognet, as well as François-Xavier Poizat, whose Weill Hall concert I had reviewed last year. Tonight’s piano ensemble, that had gathered for a two piano concert in Steinway Hall’s lovely downstairs auditorium, included, in addition to Mr. Cognet and Mr. Poizat, Audrey Abela and Alexandra Joan. According to Mr. Cognet, “June 21st is called Fête de la Musique, a French tradition. Every June 21 in France we celebrate music on the first day of summer. All kinds of musical events are organized throughout the country, in concert venues as well as on the street.” The audience was greeted by the Steinway event host, Karen Beluso, who is Institutional Sales Manager at Steinway & Sons. She was kind to give me a brief tour of the new Hall after the recital.

Wagner’s The Ride of the Valkyries opened the two piano concert, with all four pianists performing at once, two on each Steinway. A dramatic treble theme ensued before evoking the rush of the chase. The pianos immediately presented exceptional tonal clarity and pure melody, expanded by the two grand Steinways. Chopin’s Rondo for Two Pianos, next, was performed by Mr. Cognet and Ms. Joan, on opposite pianos, finishing each other’s phrases, as well as merging thematic phrases. At this moment I was reminded of readings about George Sand’s Salons for Chopin, as this event was so intimate and inspiring. The two pianists presented contrasting tempi within synchronization. Mozart’s Overture from The Marriage of Figaro was performed by Mr. Cognet and Ms. Abela on one piano, with Mr. Poizat and Ms. Joan on the other. Both women played the treble notes, while the men played the lower range notes, and the effect was sumptuous “surround sound”.

Czerny’s Les Trois Amateurs (Fantasie on Mozart Arias) was performed by the two men and Ms. Joan, all on the left piano. Six hands, one piano, a thrilling sound. Mr. Poizat, on the high notes, created rapid tonal waterfalls, incredibly crystalline. There was a hint of music I recalled from the 1984 film about Mozart, “Amadeus”. The musical passages here were seamlessly played in unison or sequentially, a tribute to these artists. Dukas’ L’Apprenti Sorcier, arranged for four hands, was literally a showstopper before intermission. Both pianos were busy with Mr. Cognet on the left and Ms. Joan on the right. They brought this iconic music to life, reminiscent of the Disney scene in “Fantasia”, building volume, momentum, depth, and intensity of this echoing theme. To open the second half of the program, Rachmaninov’s Waltz and Romance brought forth a different configuration, with both women and Mr. Cognet on the left piano. This was truly an orchestral moment, with the music so detailed and vibrant, six hands at Rachmaninov, the tonal imagery of a piano concerto.

An excerpt of Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances was performed by the two men, one on each Steinway grand. The music was powerful and melodic with no room to pause. Both Mr. Poizat and Mr. Cognet were playing almost as one. The pronounced theme grabbed the listeners’ rapt attention. Once again, both men performed Lutoslawski’s Paganini Variations. This music was again astounding, with occasional dissonance and storminess, a wild and turbulent, tonal ride. For the final work on the program, Smetana’s Sonata for 2 Pianos 8 Hands, all four musicians put the two Steinways grands to the ultimate test, and they truly entertained this enthused audience with impressive accomplishment. A march motif followed as the stunning encore, with all four pianists loosening up, crossing their own hands up and down the keyboard. Kudos to Audrey Abela, Matthieu Cognet, Alexandra Joan, and Francois-Xavier Poizat for this exceptional two piano concert. Kudos to Steinway Hall and the French-American Piano Society, as well.



François-Xavier Poizat,
and Matthieu Cognet
at Steinway Hall, NY
Mark C. Morris Photography



Alexandra Joan and
François-Xavier Poizat
at Steinway Hall, NY
Mark C. Morris Photography



Matthieu Cognet
François-Xavier Poizat
Audrey Abela
Alexandra Joan
at Steinway Hall, NY
Mark C. Morris Photography



Matthieu Cognet
François-Xavier Poizat
Audrey Abela
Alexandra Joan
at Steinway Hall, NY
Mark C. Morris Photography



Alexandra Joan
François-Xavier Poizat
Matthieu Cognet
Audrey Abela
at Steinway Hall, NY
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower



Steinway Piano at Steinway Hall
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower



Steinway Piano at Steinway Hall
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower



Street-Level Reception Showroom
Steinway Hall, NY
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower


For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net