By Lawrence Budmen

Duo D’Accord, winner of the 2001 Murray Dranoff International Two Piano Competition, returned to Miami on May 6 for a capital recital for Sunday Afternoons of Music at Gusman Concert Hall on the University of Miami campus. The musical partnership of Shao-Yin Huang and Sebastian Euler offered a recital that was a real winner from first note to last.

Opening with a deft rendition of Robert Schumann’s Andante and Variations, the duo continued the thematic thread with the two piano version of Brahms’s Variations on a Theme by Haydn. In a score best known in orchestral guise, Duo D’Accord offered supple, brilliantly articulated pianism. Brahms’s difficult keyboard writing is filled with inner voicings and contrapuntal invention. There was nothing muddled or pedantic in the duo’s traversal. This was thinking man’s music making, replete with strength, tonal color, and intellectual rigor. 

John Corigliano’s Kaleidoscope is a divertingly witty bon-bon that would not be out of place as an entr’acte to a Mel Brooks movie. Huang and Euler captured the music’s breezy charm with scintillating brio.

Clara Schumann’s four hand (one piano) transcription of Robert Schumann’s Piano Quintet proved a real curio. This score is one of the true masterpieces of the chamber music literature, a glorious outpouring of cascading lyricism that flows seamlessly from the initial motif through the invigorating coda. There is no way all of the marvelous string writing in this piece can be transcribed for keyboard; yet Clara Schumann’s attempt is never less than interesting. Her pianistic take on the Scherzo is vigorous and stylish. The finale sounds almost like a different work in this version. Duo D’Accord offered a subtle, well articulated performance of this unusual view of a chamber music icon.

Franz Liszt’s Reminiscences de Don Juan (based on themes from Mozart’s Don Giovanni) is a certifiable finger breaker, but the score held no terrors for this terrific twosome. Their superlative performance captured all the drama, elegant filigree, and power pounding energy that Liszt (the ultimate demonic keyboard genius) so vividly conjured up. Every bar and overtone was totally transparent. One rarely hears this showpiece played with such a perfect combination of visceral energy and finely etched passion.

After a well deserved ovation, Huang and Euler offered a sunny French bon-bon by Frances Poulenc, the ultimate sweet treat soufflé. Their stylish, elegant performance was all charm and grace.

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