Piano duo to perform with Santa Barbara Symphony during world premiere
In the two hands of a talented musician, a grand piano can project an orchestral-like richness.
Now imagine it with four hands.
Israeli married couple Sivan Silver and Gil Garbug will show the magic that happens when they play together on the same piano at The Granada. They’re performing with the Santa Barbara Symphony during its “Romance in a New Key” concert at 7:30 p.m. April 23 and 3 p.m. April 24.
The internationally renowned piano duo and the symphony will perform during the world premiere of Concerto for Piano Four Hands and String Orchestra — Richard Dünser’s adaptation of Robert Schumann’s Piano Quartet, Opus 47.
“It’s one of his (Schumann’s) most beloved pieces. It’s a very vibrant, very fast and intense piece,” Mr. Garbug told the News-Press this week by phone from Berlin, where the couple lives.
The music’s history dates back to when Schumann co-wrote Piano Quartet, Opus 47 with his wife and fellow pianist, Clara Weick Schumann. They composed it for piano, violin, viola and cello.
Later, someone Schumann mentored — none other than Johannes Brahms — turned the quartet into a duet.
Mr. Dunser took it a step further by adapting the music for four hands at a single piano and a string orchestra. He did that expressly for Ms. Silver and Mr. Garbug, who discussed the music’s history further with the News-Press.
“The Brahms version is much more round than Schumann,” Mr. Garbug said, noting the original quartet features tension between the piano and violin. “They compete with each other. In the Brahms version, it’s much less a competition. It’s cooperation.”
Music for four hands at the piano is relatively new, Mr. Garbug said. “It developed with the development of the pianoforte. The first composer (of four-hand pieces) was Mozart. It’s some of his more experimental pieces.”
The idea of four hands suggests one pianist playing a dominant melody and the other providing accompaniment, but Mr. Garbug explained that isn’t the case. “It’s not about who’s dominant.”
Instead, it’s a matter of two pianists merging their emotions together.
“That’s the best thing,” Mr. Garbug said. “It’s like an Indian god with four hands.”
He said four hands at the piano can be reminiscent of a vocal quartet or an instrumental ensemble, depending on the piece.
“The real challenge of playing four hands is to find exactly what to do with the color and the balance,” Mr. Garbug said.
He recalled how he and Ms. Silver, who had their own solo careers, became a piano duo.
“It started, like many things, by accident,” Mr. Garbug said. “We received an invitation to do one program, piano with four hands.”
They liked it so much they kept playing as a duo — for more than 20 years. That’s what you’d call harmony in any key.