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Last minute call. “Do you want to see super-young genius Behzod Abduraimov in a double piano concerto?” “You really need me to answer? Where and what time?” That’s how this evening started: unexpected and unsurprisingly enjoyable. I visited for the first time the Cadogan Hall, an old church turned into concert hall that celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. A pleasant space with clear view from all around, the only little flaw it may have is an acoustic excess of high frequencies. Otherwise, a very interesting space and season.

Once there, a second surprise was awaiting for me: there was a whole English Chamber Orchestra playing tonight together with the two pianists, under Andrew Litton’s baton. The program, sweet without excess (Ravel-Mozart-Dvorák) helped me get enthusiastic. I missed a little more concentration on the first piece, Le Tombeau de Couperin. The intricacy of all those woods solos, so often without strings enveloping their sound, needs a color uniformity that wasn’t present from the start. Maybe it lacked just a little more rehearsing, because the ECO offered also great quality moments -as the low-pitched woods trio + pizzicati in the second movement, delicious.

The pianists’ appearance helped the musicians relax and forget the burden of the solos -especially evident in the troubled first oboe. Litton accompanied with the orchestra effectively, but Abduraimov and Ioudenitch, his professor, did such an excellent work that we hardly heard anything else. Have you ever seen a synchronized diving competition? Just imagine those dives done identically but one after the other, and only when you replay the recordings together you realise how well they match… That seems impossible, right? Well, this is what these two Uzbek masters achieved tonight in Mozart’s Concerto for two pianos (K365). The homogeneity of their sound, their musical ideas, the exact attacks, ornaments… everything was perfectly equal. It was overwhelming to realise that they were sharing one phrase each, but it all sounded as the same player. Abduraimov’s style will take him really far, with that crisp touch and beautiful expression in his hands. Ioudenitch wasn’t behind at all. In fact, he still can teach his pupil how to master the full range of different attacks he has presented us with. Two amazing pianists in perfect tandem. I feel so lucky to have enjoyed them tonight.

After the interval, the orchestra felt much more comfortable in the romanticism of Dvorák’s Legends. The strings showed all their majesty and the winds joined them in a much rounder, consistent sound. The romanticism also helped Litton develop longer, stretched dynamics to lift the spirits with passionate expression. And the same happened when the orchestra returned to the French Impressionism with Ma mère l’Oye: they delivered really beautiful passages, delicious pianissimo endings, surprising effects, consistent dialogues… It was really good, but at the same time it’s somehow strange that an orchestra that has a chamber vocation feels much more comfortable in “more symphonic” pieces. But we’ll leave that thought for some other time. Tonight the good impressions, the surprising moments, the perfect Abduraimov-Ioudenitch tandem weight much heavier. To many evenings of good music. To many evenings like this one!

© Marco Misheff. Two pianos

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