The piano four-hands configuration is surely one of the more humble performance traditions, shirking the flashy egoism of solo playing in favour of friendly fun. But that’s not to say the music isn’t virtuosic, as Anna Grinberg and Liam Viney show in their recent release on ABC Classics, offering an attractive programme of Australian music that’s not without depth.
Carl Vine’s Sonata for Piano Four-hands is a multifaceted work that explores the textural combinations possible where four hands share melodies and accompanying figures that ripple and dance with a modal energy. Stuart Greenbaum’s own sonata takes inspiration from the cosmos, building a language inspired by the relationship between Sun and Earth – at times powerful and domineering, at others contemplative and spacious. Both works are evocative responses to the four-hands conundrum and make for satisfying listening.
Music by Ross Edwards and Peter Sculthorpe tap into the duo’s tradition of music for younger players. Edwards’ Nine Bagatelles are charming miniatures that dance and play with casual merriment, and occasionally a hint of the telltale Edwards ‘maninya’ style. Sculthorpe’s Four Little Pieces are all arrangements of previous works for piano, imbued with a lyrical melodic character. Elena Kats-Chernin’s Victor’s Heart is a solemn minor-tinged dedication to a lost hero, making for a colourful finish with its undertones of Romantic pianism.