Duo of skill and coordination

Glenn Riddle and Katherine Austin. Photos: supplied.

The Trans-Tasman Piano Duo was in town on Sunday, playing to a large audience in the fourth Tauranga Musica concert at Graham Young Theatre.

As all who have attempted a piano duet are aware, putting four hands to one piano is full of pitfalls.

Yet most composers wrote for this configuration. Creating a symphony in your living room just takes two players of superb skill and coordination.

We heard two such players on Sunday. Katherine Austin is head of piano studies at Waikato Conservatorium and Glenn Riddle is similarly lecturer in keyboard in Melbourne.

We’ve read much of how the young Mozart wrote duo sonatas for himself and sister Nannerl to wow the heads of Europe. Our visiting duo gave a fine example of what that must have been like.

Later Franz Schubert composed his beautiful ‘F minor Fantasie’ as a teaching tool for the young countess Caroline Esterhazy, to whom he communicated in a special way.

Emulating a large orchestra on one piano was demonstrated in two movements of Stravinsky’s sad ballet ‘Petrouchka’, about which Miss Austin helped our audience by recounting her own childhood listening experience.

Six youthful duos from the brilliant pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff included a dazzling scherzo, always a crowd pleaser.

But what had the entire audience swaying in sympathy was a setting of Tchaikovsky’s ‘Waltz of the Flowers’.

The next concert of the series is September 25 at Tauranga Park Auditorium, Pyes Pa.