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An Amadeus Affair / Anderson & Roe

Release Date: 02/25/2014
Label: Steinway & Sons Catalog #: 30022
Composer:  Ferrucio Busoni ,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart ,  Greg Anderson ,  Franz Liszt Performer:  Elizabeth Joy Roe ,  Greg Anderson Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anderson & Roe Number of Discs: 1
Recorded in: Stereo

Mozart's fascination with romance and Anderson & Roe's infatuation with Mozart come together in a sonic whirl of intrigue, scandal, exhilaration and mischief.

"An Amadeus Affair", the second release from Anderson & Roe on the Steinway label, celebrates Mozart with a brilliant recording of his Sonata for Two Pianos surrounded by scintillating four-hand arrangements of music from his operas and concertos. Their first release on the Steinway Label, "When Words Fade", was released to critical acclaim and spent over a dozen weeks on the Billboard Classical Charts.

Album Credits:
Recorded July 15 – 19, 2013 at the Concert Hall of the Performing Arts Center, SUNY Purchase,
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Produced and Recorded by Steven Epstein
Executive Producers: Eric Feidner, Jon Feidner
Art Direction: Jackie Fugere
Pianos: Steinway Model D
Photos: Bill Reitzel

"An Amadeus Affair features the multiple award-winning piano duo Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Joy Roe performing a kaleidoscopic collection of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s works. The composer’s mastery of opera, concerto and the sonata offers this dynamic duo the kind of musical repertoire that allows the interplay of their four hands at one and two Steinway pianos to excel at a level unheard in recent years by similar concert pianists of their generation.

The program opens with Busoni’s buoyant transcription of Duettino concertante which he based on Mozart’s Piano Concerto in F major, K 459. Anderson and Roe deftly fuse the varied compositional styles inherent in the work including the fugal, sonata-rondo finale, and opera buffa (comic opera) forms. The duo later handles Franz Liszt’s dazzling pianistic fireworks that he based on themes from Mozart’s Don Giovanni with boundary-breaking finesse during Reminiscences de Don Juan. In addition to the two transcriptions heard here by Ferruccio Busoni and Franz Liszt, the remaining works on the program - with the exception of Sonata for Two Pianos in D major, K. 448 – are new transcriptions/arrangements by Anderson and Roe. The pair offer their listeners exceptional reworkings and memorable interpretations of such inimitable Mozart masterpieces as: “Soave sia il vento” from Cosi fan tutte K. 588; Grand Scherzo (based on the Finale to Act 1 from Cosi fan tutte, K 588); Chorale Prelude from Die Zauberflöte, K 620; and Ragtime alla Turca which is based on Rondo alla Turca, K. 331.

However, it is Mozart’s brilliant and refined Sonata for Two Pianos in D major, K. 448 that remains the most unforgettable performance heard on this great program. The duo doesn’t fail to fulfill Mozart’s original 3-movements with the fanfare and vibrancy, poetry and tenderness and virtuosity this work is known for. It’s no wonder why their skill and technical brilliance has been described as “the intense synchronization of genius.”

Throughout An Amadeus Affair, Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Joy Roe bring Mozart’s greatness to a new generation while escalating the role of the classical piano duo to a new level of virtuosity and sophistication."

-- Paula Edelstein, LA Music Examiner

"A totally delightful combination of bubbly Mozart brilliantly adapted by a group known under the vaudevillian-sounding name of Anderson & Roe Piano Duo...hearing tracks 1, 2 and 10 ought to seal the deal for most people. In particular, Ferruccio Busoni’s oddly-named Duettino concertante...Everything Busoni has imagined, from the innocence at the beginning through to the incredible climax of his original cadenza and then the scampering around and last kisses in bed, is beautifully realized by Anderson & Roe; it will change the lives of all who hear it, both for the music and the way it is played."

-- Laurence Vitte, Audiophile Audition

For their second Steinway & Sons release the Anderson & Roe Piano Duo dedicates their highly calibrated keyboard prowess, clever arranging skills, and canny program building on behalf of Mozart. They open with a lithe and beautifully sculpted reading of Busoni’s Duettino concertante, which is basically the finale of Mozart’s F major K. 459 concerto smothered with texture thickener in the way of added octaves, double notes, and the like. By contrast, the duo’s own treatment of “Soave sia il vento” from Cosi fan tutte exemplifies taste and discretion, with the liberally pedaled accompaniment flowing, as Mozart would have put it, “like oil”.

The pianists seem to have planned out every nuance in Mozart’s D major Sonata for Two Pianos to the point where dynamism and spontaneous repartee take a back seat. While the tapered lines, micromanaged dynamic hairpins, and slight elongations of either phrase ends or downbeats never sound fussy, they do sound prepackaged next to the equally polished yet more poetic interplay that Murray Perahia and Radu Lupu generate. However, the duo gives freer rein to their delightful four-movement Grand Scherzo, especially in their agile and airborne two-piano transformation of Si Mora, Si, Si Mora.

They unleash huge sonorities and dramatic bravura in the Liszt Don Juan Fantasy’s introduction, only to play coy in the Duetto variations with studied ritards and dotted rhythms that are too rigid to dance. Still, one must credit the duo for keeping the Presto Finale’s boisterous momentum alive without resorting to the slightest hint of banging, although I find the live, looser-limbed Martha Argerich/Maurizio Vallina Lugano EMI recording more playful and joyous overall.

Lastly, the duo offers their own arrangement of Mozart’s Rondo alla Turca that flirts with ragtime at the start but quickly detours into a madcap Hungarian Rhapsody laced with plenty of pyrotechnical detail à la Cziffra and Horowitz. Here the pianists clearly are having fun, and so is at least one reviewer! Steve Epstein’s engineering counts among the most beautifully balanced and realistically reproduced two-piano releases in the current catalog.

-- Jed Distler,

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