This recording celebrates the diversity of American music in the 20th century, from the neo-Romanticism of Samuel Barber to that most influential of American art music developments, minimalism. Its title, ‘American Intersections’, points toward one of the most commented-upon facets of American musical life: the fact that the country is a melting pot of musical cultures, a crossroads of musical traditions, a colourful tapestry of diverse sounds. This recording features composers who all worked against the backdrop of an increasing tendency toward modernism in European art music. Yet, we find the direct influence of Latin-American and Southern American music; we find direct engagement with the blues tradition, with its origins in the West African slave population; we find a continuation of Romanticism alongside a representative of the modern minimalist style that no composer today can ignore. There is music inspired by daily life at hotels, there is music that is overtly political, there is music that engages with the European tradition and forges it into something totally original.
Having gained comparisons to the fabled piano duos of Ashkenazy-Previn and Argerich-Freire (American Record Guide), the Magalhães-Schumann duo, best known as TwoPianists, is one of the finest chamber music ensembles on African soil. Comprised of established Stellenbosch-based musicians Luis Magalhães and Nina Schumann, TwoPianists was formed in 1999 while both were under the tutelage of maestro Vladimir Viardo. Since then, the TwoPianists duo has toured extensively throughout the US, Germany, Portugal, Austria, Switzerland, Poland, Spain, China and Japan, in addition to numerous performances in their home country of South Africa. In 2014, the TwoPianists duo assumed the role of Yamaha International Artists, reflecting their growing prestige in the musical world.
The ensemble’s debut recording, comprising the full works for two pianos by Rachmaninov, established their reputation as recording artists. Their second release, consisting of virtuoso showpieces and released on their own label, has further cemented that position by being described as “Mehr kann man wirklich nicht verlangen.” (Deutschland Radio) and “thrilling and flamboyant, tender and passionate, vibrant and dynamic” (MusicWeb International). Their most recent release is a nod to their parallel careers as soloists: Bach’s monumental Goldberg Variations, in piano duo format.
Following on their penchant for the original, TwoPianists introduces superb American repertoire for two pianos in a beautifully recorded disc.