Johannes Brahms-Variationen über ein Thema von Robert Schumann for piano four hands, op.23
Carl Reinecke-Variationen über eine Sarabande von J.S.Bach for two pianos, op.24
Johannes Brahms-Variationen über ein Thema von Haydn ("St.Anthony Variations") for two pianos, op.56b
Camille Saint-Saëns-Variations sur un thème de Beethoven for two Pianos, Op. 35
Witold Lutosławski-Variations on a theme by Paganini for two pianos
On the occasion of our 10th anniversary as a piano duo, we have selected for this album sets of variations which reflect the process of change as well connections to tradition and between artistic personalities. We dedicate ourselves to works that reflect in different ways how to deal with an artistic heritage. These reminiscences span a musical-historical arc from Bach to the middle of the 20th century. Since every artist is invariably under the influence of a tradition, and both of us as musicians have been accompanied by the idea of tradition throughout our lives – at once aiding artistic orientation and representing a burden – this repertoire corresponds very personally to us as interpreters.
Variation form is particularly suited to enabling our understanding of different perspectives on a traditional idea, and experiencing the process of transformation in a multifaceted way. The theme, as it develops, loses itself, finds itself again, is transfigured by the stylistic devices of the composer. We can participate directly in the delivery of something new that has emerged from the old.
Historical context also changes our view of a musical work; for example, the background to the process behind Schumann's Ghost Variations, on his “last thought", is also omnipresent in the Variations, Op. 23 by Brahms, and testifies to an almost spiritual connection between artists that deeply moves us: shortly before his mental breakdown, Schumann believed that the spirits of Mendelssohn and Schubert had sung the theme of his variations to him in the form of angels. This theme’s resigned and sad beauty is transformed by Brahms during the course of his variations into a solemn, sublime funeral march, and creates a moving homage to his friend and mentor.
In the same way, masterpieces that have been preserved during the passage of time influence us today in our “being” and “becoming”. We bow before the great masters, whose evolving place in tradition always produces something new.