I found The Anderson & Roe Piano Duo on YouTube yesterday. Graduates from Julliard, these two have done some really fantastic work reimagining works such as Strauss’s The Blue Danube waltzes, Astor Piazzolla’s Libertango and John Williams’ Star Wars music to delight those who hear and see them.
The playing is flawless, but what really fizzes is the video work. I haven’t played many piano duets, but it’s really quite an intimate experience. Since they spend so much time alone there, I’m sure most pianists feel like the keyboard is theirs alone when they sit in front of the eighty-eight keys and so sharing the space with someone else is quite a charged environment. One can only speculate as to the amount of piano duet music written for pretty students by admiring teachers! (Greg) Anderson and (Elizabeth Joy) Roe’s videos allow the viewer access to the physical element of piano duetting and they use the medium to explore the narrative suggested by the music they play. The most recent video, of Mozart’s Sonata in D for two pianos, is very well judged and uses various methods to sustain our visual interest, my favourite being the pianists’ hand reflections mirrored in a beautiful editing trick.
Of course Anderson & Roe are not writing music for the drawing room, but for 2000-seater concert halls, and so they purposefully rewrite the music to tangle themselves together. It must take them so long to rehearse! They claim not to do it for the ‘rock’-style, but some of their acrobatics are just plain dangerous (one false move and delicate pinky collides with sweeping elbow…ouch…piano career scuppered). That’s what makes it such good viewing! We love that stuff, right? I personally could take less of their yearning, passionate moments. Yeah, we love Eric Clapton’s/John Mayer’s guitar faces but for some reason that’s allowed in a way that some of this pair’s antics just aren’t. IMHO. (Which, when you think about it, should really be rendered imho, for extra humility…)