SUNDAY AFTERNOONS OF MUSIC
TENGSTRAND-SUN PIANO DUO (5-22-05)


By Lawrence Budmen

For the past eighteen years Miami has been home to the Murray Dranoff International Two Piano Competition. The 2003 first prize winners of this unique event (the only competition for duo pianists in the world) - the Tengstrand-Sun Piano Duo - performed an enchanting recital to conclude the Sunday Afternoons of Music series on Sunday at UM Gusman Hall. This stellar piano team combined impressive technical control with real musical personality in duo repertoire by composers from France, Germany, Russia, and Poland. 

Per Tengstrand and Shan-Shan Sun are distinguished soloists and chamber music players. They brought razor sharp brilliance to the Paganini Variations by the late Polish composer Witold Lutoslawski. This wartime score is acerbic and often violent in its dissonance and hard edged clangor. Tengstrand and Sunís brisk traversal did full justice to this disturbing reinvention of Paganiniís 24th Caprice. 

By contrast Gabriel Faureís Dolly Suite (for Piano Four Hands) was altogether beguiling Ė perfect music for a warm afternoon. The playersí lightness of touch in the Berceuse had the aura of Gallic perfume. Their fleet, spry fingered version of the Pas Espagnol literally danced off the keyboard. 

Two movements from Rachmaninoffís Suite No.2 brought contrasting mood pictures. The rhapsodic Romance was played with throbbing passion and true Russian soul. The wild bravura of the Tarantella astutely mixed Italianate abandon with Russian musical caviar. 

Brahmsís two piano transcription of his orchestral masterpiece Variations on a Theme of Haydn is often played in a pedantic manner but the Tengstrand-Sun Duo made the music come alive. Their flowing, graceful rendition of the St. Anthony Chorale theme prefaced a lyrical, multi-colored panorama of Brahmsian warmth. The duo found a glowing cantabile line in the Grazioso section while the Passacaglia glistened with wonderful inner voicings. The concluding restatement of the choral theme had majestic grandeur. 

Tengstrand and Sunís version of Ravelís La Valse was no mere Impressionistic pastel. They painted a dramatic tonal portrait of the Vienesse waltz in its twilight. The Samba from Scaramouche by Darius Milhaud - the duoís winning encore - combined French insouciance and Latin pizzazz. 

Copyright Miami Herald


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