Piano Synergy Duo

Piano Synergy Duo: Music of French Composers

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Artist: Piano Synergy Duo
Title: Music of French Composers

Piano Synergy Duo. Husband-and-wife team Ruslan Sviridov and Irina Khovanskaya created the Piano Synergy Duo in 1996. Using their unique musical potential, the duo designs concert programs in which they perform together as well as individually. The results have been a constantly heavy demand and continuing success. For the past 14 years, the duo has toured extensively throughout Russia, Europe, and the Unites States. Irina Khovanskaya was born to a musician's family in Russia's Moscow Region in 1972. She began piano lessons at age 4 and gave her first recital about two years later in Kiev. Ten years of formal musical training followed at the Moscow Central Special Music College, during which time she also concertized extensively as a recitalist and with orchestras. Several of these events took place at the Moscow Conservatory's Small Hall, but she also played as far afield as the Russian Space Center (Moscow Region) and on USSR TV. Receiving a Bachelor's Degree in 1990, Khovanskaya's studies and performing career continued as she entered the Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatory, where her teacher was Victor Merzhanov. Now her performances become international. Besides appearances with the Moscow Symphony Orchestra and in many Russian cities, she performed in Zurich, Munich, Brussels, and Warsaw. Contests in Russia, Germany, and Belgium were capped by Khovanskaya's winning First Prize in the Texas Steinway Society Piano Competition in Dallas, Texas in 1999. With her Conservatory Diploma (1996) and post-graduate work behind her, Dr. Khovanskaya now resides in San Antonio, Texas. In addition to performance engagements, she teaches piano at the University of the Incarnate Word and adjudicates in piano competitions. Ruslan Sviridov was born in 1973 in Tambov, Russia. He began to study music at age 7 and gave his first public performance at the age of 8. His years of study at the Tambov Music School and later at the Rachmaninov Music College in Tambov were marked by many competition triumphs and literally hundreds of concerts and recitals throughout Russia's Central Region. First prizes came from the Tchaikovsky Regional Piano Contest (1989), the Bartok Regional Contest (1989), and the Kabalevsky Regional Competition for Young Pianists (1990), to name only a few. Sviridov went on to enter the Moscow State Conservatory, studying with Victor Merzhanov. Concerts and competitions continued, now at a higher level. He played with symphony orchestras in several Russian cities, including Moscow, Ulyanovsk, and Tambov, and at the Glinka Music Festival in Smolensk. During 1994-96, he took Grand Prize or First Prize (or both) or a Special Jury Prize at competitions in Italy at Tortona, Alassio, San Bartolomeo al Mare, and Caltanissetta, Sicily. His first U.S. triumph was a Special Jury Prize in Kingsville, Texas (1995). In addition to an international list of recitals, Sviridov's career is distinguished by a substantial body of television tapes and live appearances, starting in Russia and extending through Italy, Switzerland, Portugal, and the United States (NBC). During his studies in Moscow, culminating in a Doctoral Degree (1998), he taught piano and music theory. Leaving Russia in 1998, Dr. Sviridov again picked up his teaching activity in San Antonio, Texas, also his base for concertizing and contest adjudication. ____________________________________________________________________________________ Milhaud, Le Boeuf sur le toit, op. 58 As early as 1916, a group of six French composers came together. This loose association, which included Darius Milhaud and Francis Poulenc, became known in 1920 as Les Six, an influential neo-Classical force in music. They were iconoclastic, preferring short, epigrammatic forms to the sprawling syntax of the Romantics. Milhaud (1892-1974) was one of the boldest experimenters of Les Six, using bi- and polytonality (music in more than one key simultaneously) in many of his works. Among the earliest of these was Le Boeuf sur le toit (The Ox on the Roof) composed in 1919 for a small, theater-size orchestra. The year before, Milhaud had returned to France after a two-year stint as Attaché to the French Cultural Minister in Brazil. The exciting Brazilian music still rang in his ears, as he wrote in his biography Notes without Music: Still haunted by my memories of Brazil, I assembled a few popular melodies, tangos, maxixes, sambas, and even a Portuguese fado, and transcribed them with a rondo-like theme between them. I called this fantasia Le Boeuf sur le toit, the title of a Brazilian popular song. Milhaud's friend Jean Cocteau immediately conceived a modern ballet scenario for the music, which takes place in a "speak-easy" bar in America, then experiencing Prohibition. The conception was surreal, including slow-motion movements to Milhaud's energetic music and huge full-head masks for the bizarre assortment of characters: "a Boxer, a Negro dwarf, a Lady of Fashion, a Redheaded Woman dressed as a man, a Bookmaker, a Gentleman in evening clothes." Milhaud describes the scenario: The Barman . . . offers everyone cocktails. After a few incidents and various dances, a Policeman enters, whereupon the scene is immediately transformed into a milk bar. The clients play a rustic scene and dance a pastorale as they sip glasses of milk. The Barman switches on a big fan, which decapitates the Policeman. The Redheaded Woman executes a dance with the Policeman's head, ending by standing on her hands like the Salome in Rouen Cathedral. One by one, the customers drift away, and the Barman presents an enormous bill to the resuscitated Policeman. With scenery by Raoul Dufy, Le Boeuf sur le toit ran three sold-out performances at the Comédie des Champs-Élysées on a bill that included music by other members of Les Six and Erik Satie. Le Boeuf sur le toit immensely enhanced Milhaud's reputation as a light-hearted composer. The year following it's premiere, Le Boeuf sur le toit played at the Coliseum Theater in London, and the work has continued to be a favorite on concert programs. Player pianos were still around in the 1920s, and in 1926, a French firm engaged Milhaud to make piano rolls of some of his music. Because of the popularity of Le Boeuf sur le toit, the composer created a four-hand version of it, which he and Jean Wiéner recorded. Unfortunately, the increasing attractiveness of radio and phonograph recordings caused the company to go bankrupt before the piano roll could be released. The four-hand arrangement, however, has made a fine contribution to the modern French repertoire. Fauré, Dolly, Op. 56 Ever since Robert Schumann composed Kinderscenen in 1838, composers have been fascinated with portraying a child's world in piano music. Three French composers, in particular, have made great contributions. Maurice Ravel's Mother Goose (for piano duet) was composed for two children of close friends. Claude Debussy wrote his famous piano suite Children's Corner for his daughter, Chou-Chou. Chou-Chou's mother was Emma Bardac, whom the composer later married. Emma also had a younger daughter, Hélène, by her first husband, Sigismond Bardac. Hélène, nicknamed "Dolly," was the inspiration for the Dolly suite for piano duet by Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924). Dolly was born June 20, 1892, and for her first birthday, Fauré presented the "Berceuse" (Lullaby) that would become the opening movement of the Dolly suite. Fauré had written this piece in 1864 and revised it slightly for the gift. It went on to become the most celebrated part of the suite and a famous piece on it's own. Ingeniously, the composer builds a whole movement on one simple tune. In addition to the picture of a mother singing or humming to her baby, his movement's charming naiveté suggests a child doing the same for her little doll. "Mi-a-ou," despite the sound of it, is not about a cat. The title of the second movement, presented to Dolly on her second birthday, was something like she sounded t

1.1 Le Boeuf Sur Le Toit, Op. 58 (Cinéma-Symphonie Sur Des Airs Sud-Américains)
1.2 Dolly, Op. 56: I. Berceuse
1.3 Dolly, Op. 56: II. Mi-A-Ou
1.4 Dolly, Op. 56: III. Jardin de Dolly
1.5 Dolly, Op. 56: IV. Kitty-Valse
1.6 Dolly, Op. 56: V. Tendresse
1.7 Dolly, Op. 56: VI. Pas Espagnol
1.8 Sonata for Piano Four Hands: I. Prelude
1.9 Sonata for Piano Four Hands: II. Rustique
1.10 Sonata for Piano Four Hands: III. Final
1.11 Petite Suite: I. en Bateau (Boating)
1.12 Petite Suite: II. Cortège
1.13 Petite Suite: III. Menuet
1.14 Petite Suite: IV. Ballet

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