Beethoven Dialogues

by DUO Stephanie & Saar

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Duo Stephanie & Saar’s Beethoven Dialogues, the second New Focus release following their critically acclaimed Bach Crossings, contains three piano four hands transcriptions of Beethoven’s iconic Op. 18 set of string quartets. It is fascinating to hear this timeless material lifted out of its original context and instrumentation and placed onto a keyboard, and reveals much about the core strength and malleability of Beethoven’s writing. Movements that are fleet and light in the string quartet may become more deliberate, exposing the harmonic motion in a different way, such as the opening Allegro con brio from the Bflat Major quartet, Op. 18 no. 6. Music that in the string quartet version is broadly expressive becomes more reflective and introspective when mapped onto the piano, such as the Adagio affetuoso ed appassionato second movement of the F major Op. 18 no. 1 quartet. Despite the early date of composition of these works in Beethoven’s career, in these piano versions, one hears many hints of the late piano works and even some foreshadowing of the resignation and wisdom of his late string quartets.

With the growth of the keyboard in the nineteenth century, transcriptions of prominent works, whether for orchestra, string quartet, or another combination, became a popular way for well off music lovers to get to know the repertoire in lieu of hearing performances in their original instrumentations. These transcriptions by Hugo Ulrich and Robert Wittman skillfully adapt the famous op. 18 set for four hands, thinning out dense textures and creatively solving doubling issues while preserving Beethoven’s original intent.

Duo Stephanie & Saar have been praised for their “beautifully understated performances” (NY Times) and “elegance and subtlety” (Baltimore Sun) and have recently appeared in a special collaboration with the New World Symphony in a new arrangement of Stravinsky’s Petrouchka, on the prestigious Dumbarton Oaks series in Washington D.C., and in a repeat invitation to perform on the Portland International Piano Festival in Oregon.

credits

released May 27, 2014

Engineer: Ryan Streber
Producer: Dan Lippel and Duo Stephanie and Saar
Recorded at Oktaven Audio, October 12, 2013 and November 7, 2013

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New Focus Recordings New York, New York

New Focus Recordings is an artist led collective label featuring releases in contemporary music of many stripes, as well as new approaches to older repertoire. The label was founded by guitarist Daniel Lippel (who is the current director), composer engineer Ryan Streber, and composer Peter Gilbert in 2003-4, and features releases from many of new music's most active performers and composers. ... more

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