Paul Ellis-Howe – piano
Stammy Cottakis – piano
Introduction and Variations on an Original Theme, D603Moritz Moszkowski
From Foreign Lands, Op 23
1. Mouvement Perpetuel
3. Valse Excentrique
4. Promenade en Fiacre
Paul Ellis-Howe and Stammy Cottakis became acquainted in 2015. They are, respectively, the Artistic Director and Director of Music of the Art Song Group, Serenata. They discovered a common fondness for playing piano duets and a debut concert was soon planned. They adopted the ensemble name of ‘Duo Benedict’ in gratitude of their late friend and pianist, Brian Benedict, who encouraged them to perform the duet repertoire in concert.
Their wide-ranging repertoire includes not only the well-known, standard piano duets but also the long-lost compositions of yesteryear: melodies and party pieces harking back to parlours, drawing rooms and music halls, and works of lesser-known composers selected from the extensive collection of dusty long-out-of-print music anthologies in Paul’s cellar!!
Schubert is unusual and indeed unique among composers in that some of his greatest works are written for piano duet. He wrote as much music for duet as for solo piano, and reaches emotional depths which take this repertoire far away from its domestic origins. In this set of variations, the opening section, which has a distinct martial quality about it, serves as an introduction to a simply stated melody. The variations that follow are characterised by complex rhythms and interplay between the two players. The surprise in the final variation is the move to triple time which gives the music a dance-like quality.
Much of the captivating duet music of the Prussian composer Moritz Moszkowski is sadly neglected these days. The composer was a virtuoso pianist, gifted orchestrator and a master at emulating the musical style of other countries. His now out-of-print set of six national character pieces ‘From Foreign Lands’ amply demonstrates this. The performers, who are playing from a 1922 edition, have selected four: ‘Poland’, ‘Spain’, ‘Germany’ and ‘Hungary’.
Philip Lane is an English composer and musicologist. He is noted for his light music compositions and arrangements, as well as his painstaking work reconstructing lost film scores. The set of four movements that comprise ‘Badinages’ are playful, jovial and full of repartee and banter.
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