When two talented performers play together on the piano, it requires a degree of intimacy. All the better when that's shared by an audience in a relatively small space. The Spotlight Concert Series' "A Piano Salon" will feature two performing duos playing a range of work from some of history's greatest composers.
The first half of the night will feature Myungsook Stoudenmire and Janet Elshazly performing works by Shostakovich, Guastavino and Gershwin. Following intermission, the husband-and-wife duo Vladimir Pleshakov and Elena Winther will perform Mozart's Sonata for Two Pianos and Rachmaninoff's Suite No. 1.
The Stoudenmire and Elshazly duo were glad to be able to pick a range of pieces for the first half of the program. "We wanted things from different periods to make it more interesting," Elshazly said.
In particular, the duo was excited to play selections from "Porgy and Bess," with music arranged by Percy Grainger, an Australian pianist and composer. The opera is based on the work of Charleston's DuBose and Dorothy Heyward.
The piece by Guastavino is probably the least well known. "It's melodic and has an interesting flavor, kind of like the wrong-note flavor," Elshazly said.
The second half of the night will shift to works by Mozart and Rachmaninoff. Pleshakov and Winther own two Mozart-era pianos, which are completely playable, though sound quite different from modern pianos. Pleshakov said it was a joy to learn on a period instrument and to hear music the way it was heard in Mozart's time.
"You cannot learn on a modern piano the same as you can on a Mozart-era piano," he said.
Three of Pleshakov's teachers knew Rachmaninoff and one was a student of the great pianist.
But Mozart-era pianos and Pleshakov's connection with Rachmaninoff played only a small role in choosing the pieces.
"Each one allows us to experiment with sound, and at this point in our lives we've reached the conclusion that, with art, it's what you feel and what you imagine that counts, not the medium," Pleshakov said. "The unwritten, the unseen, the unheard, and the echoes that resonate are what makes a performance great."
Nicholas Schmiedicker is a Goldring Arts Journalist from Syracuse University.