Aaron Copland (1900-1990) wished early on to be "recognizably American," and he succeeded admirably. The Danzon Cubano demonstrates his percussive sonorities, irregular, abrupt phrases and off-beat rhythms. Also characteristic are his interpretitive indications: "nonchalant, but precise," "naive and non-sentimental," "rough tone," and "glassy." His other two-piano works include his own arrangements of Billy The Kid and Danza de Jalisco."
Manuel Infante was born near Seville in 1883, moved to Paris in 1909 and died there in 1958. He is little-known but wrote many graceful piano pieces, mostly on Spanish themes. Sentimiento is the middle movement of his Adalusian Suite for 2 Pianos.
Bela Bartok (1881-1945) wrote 153 progressive piano pieces as teaching pieces for his son, Peter. He published them in six books and called them Mikrokosmos, arranging seven of the pieces for two pianos. Six of those are played here. Bartok's great knowledge and love of folk music is reflected in Bulgarian Rhythm and New Hungarian Folk Song.
Perpetuum Mobile exploits 2nds, 3rds, and 4ths, as well as small silences (rests) which together with driving speed give this piece its shape and force. Bartok was a master of counterpoint.
A canon is a composition written strictly according to rule. One voice begins a melody which is then imitated precisely note for note and (generally) interval for interval by some other voice. The second voice may come in at the same or a different pitch as the first, and it begins a few beats or bars after the original. Short Canon and Its Inversion is a playful demonstration of this form.
In Chromatic Invention, piano I, right hand, and piano II, left hand, are mirror images of each other as is the case with piano I, left hand, and piano II, right hand. Complicated! Bartok has helped out somewhat by accenting the intervals and repeated notes which lie under (or above) the chromatic "accompaniments," but he has further complicated matters by requiring that the piece speed up midway through and continue to be played faster and faster to the end: Bartok going bananas (in his own unique and organized fashion). Ostinato is, literally, obstinate. There are several bass patterns rather than just one repeated obstinately throughout.
Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943) composed the Waltz and the Romance as the 2nd and 3rd movements of his Suite No. 2. The Suite, in Rachmaninov's romantic, pre-Revolutionary style, has been a staple of the two-piano repertoire since its publication.
Richard Rodney Bennett (1936-) is an English composer and pianist. He studied with Pierre Boulez in Paris, and, after returning to Europe, wrote and produced operas, and music for voice, orchestra, and chamber ensembles. He has written many movie scores, among them Far From the Madding Crowd and Alexandra. His Dance Suite has a very contemporary sound and is, appropriately, dedicated to Andre Previn.
Peggy Abbott has been performing to enthusiastic audiences in the United States for many years, both as a soloist and a chamber player.
Ms. Abbott grew up in New York and studied with Robert Page from the age of nine, and later attended the University of Illinois as a piano performance major, where she studied with Claire Richards and Howard Karp.
At Nadia Boulanger's famous American School outside Paris at Fountainebleau, she continued her studies under Jean and Robert Casadesus, Clifford Curzon, and Mlle. Boulanger. Peggy Abbott continues to perform regularly, most frequently with Patrice Williams.
Patrice Williams is a native New Mexican, the daughter of author Bennett Foster and musician/teacher Aileen Foster-one of the founders of the New Mexico Music Teachers Association.
After she left her mother's studio, Patrice studied in St. Louis with Leo Sirota, the major influence in her musical life.
She later studied in Munich with Eric Tehn-Berg on a Fulbright scholarship. She has concertized in Europe and the United States, and she presently plays duo-piano concerts in the Southwest with Peggy Abbott.
Check out the artist's website:
1. Copland: Danzon Cubano
2. Infante: Sentimento
3. Infante: Sentimento 2
4. Bartok: Bulgarian Rhythm
5. Bartok: Perpetuum Mobile
6. Bartok: Short Canon and its Inversion
7. Bartok: New Hungarian Folk Song
8. Bartok: Chromatic Invention
9. Bartok: Ostinato
10. Rachmaninoff: Second Suite for Two Pianos, Waltz
11. Rachmaninoff: Second Suite for Two Pianos, Romance
12. Bennett: Samba Triste
13. Bennett: Country Blues
14. Bennett: Ragtime Waltz
15. Bennett: Finale