Questions with answers

We've been letting questions in the "question bin" pile up for some time now. I'll take a stab at answering a few of them. (And if you have any burning questions for Anderson & Roe, add them to the bin here!)

Giselle asks:

How do you decide which one of you plays each part of a duo/duet?      

Who ends up where? Who's on top, who's on bottom? Left piano, right piano?!? We're versatile! We like to spice things up! When writing music we try to keep the parts balanced, and when deciding parts we aim for variety. If Liz was on piano 1 for a particularly lyrical piece last time, I'll take the piano 1 part this time. If I exhausted myself with endless repeated notes in one piece, we'll make sure Liz takes them the next go 'round. 

That said, sometimes we'll switch sides at a concert, depending on the pianos and the other pieces we're playing. We may sit at the piano that suits the needs of our part, regardless of whether that's the piano we're *supposed* to sit at. Or we may switch sides just for the sake of renewed inspiration -- a different instrument and acoustical angle throws new surprises our way and adds to the spontaneity of live performance!

Puddin' asks:

How about some Gershwin?      

Check out our new CD when it comes out in October! Although there is no Gershwin, there is Jacques Brel, and we think you'd approve. Although he wasn't the melody writer Gershwin was, Brel's songs contained equal amounts of sophistication and jazzy delight, in addition to an unhealthy dose of charisma. ;-)

And if that's not enough for you, come to one of our Midwest tour performances in late-October and November. It's safe to say we'll have a special treat for you.

And finally, Alan asks:

My question is how is the score/parts formatted? is it printed like a part where secondo on the left, and primo on the right? or is it like a conductor score, both parts on the same page and same staff?

This one's easy. We format our one-piano/four-hand scores like a conductor's score. As a duo, we like to see how our part fits into the whole, and when rehearsing we like to point at the page rather than count measure numbers. 

There's loads more questions I haven't answered. We'll save them for another rainy day (or in this case, a tropical storm!).

Comparing Butterflies to Parthenon Marbles

I came across a terrific article written by the always-entertaining Harold Schonberg while working on my book the other day. The piece, “Recitalists who Adhere to ‘Tradition’ in Their Programs May Court Disaster,” appeared the New York Times in 1960, and I’ve pasted an excerpt from it below.

No artist who ever lived has been master of all styles. Even a genius like Rachmaninoff sounded rather silly on those rare occasions he played Mozart of Debussy. And yet, year after year, march the divisions of hopefuls with programs that encompass a capsule history of music.
Thus we get the spectacle of an ardent young violinist, obviously of a temperament that would tear down the hall in Paganini, scraping away at unaccompanied Bach. Or the converse: a young man who would be only too happy to play unaccompanied Bach to the best of his considerable ability along those lines, but who feels it his duty to play Paganini miserably.
Why in the name of artistic suicide do these things so often happen? Simply because tradition, that dried-up and unimaginative old spinster, has so decreed.
It is high time that artists realized they should program only the things that they feel they can play, not the things they think they should play. If an artist has a romantic temperament, he should avoid Scarlatti or unaccompanied Bach, and confine himself to Chopin, Schumann, Liszt, Brahms. If his allegiance is to the moderns, on with Hindemith, Prokofieff and Schoenberg; out with everything else.
But then enters, draped in black, the figure of the wise man. How, he asks in his infinite wisdom, can an artist be judged until he plays Mozart and Beethoven? THEY are the ultimate test, and not until then can the artist be given a pass to the pantheon. So says the wise man.
But this argument, though it has been parroted for years, is nonsense, and dangerous non-sense at that. Is it not good enough that an artist does a particular segment of the repertory with flair? Is not a fine Ravel interpretation preferable to a second-rate Beethoven one? Should not an artist be given credit for what he can do, rather than insults for what he does not even attempt to do? What smug superiority it is to set up standards by which a butterfly must be compared to an Elgin marble!

Questions from Daniel Baker

Dear Greg and Liz,
What would you say is your mission, exactly? You're both excellent pianists who try to break the mold and expose wider audiences to classical music, but I'd like to hear it in your words. And, on another, fairly unrelated subject, what do you know of the Liszt two piano versions of the operatic fantasies? I think that the antiphonal possibilities are gorgeously exploited in Norma, for example. Thanks
- Daniel Baker

Dear Daniel,

We defined our mission several years ago, and it has literally shaped all of our decisions as individuals, as musicians, and as a team. So, bombs away:

Greg & Liz's mission:

  • To connect with others; to engage, provoke, illuminate; to serve as a conduit for the composer's voice; to express our inner lives; to share the joy and fulfillment that only music can elicit
  • To free the world from the constraints of sleep-inducing concerts
  • To demonstrate that classical piano music can serve as a relevant and powerful force in society

As for Reminiscences de Norma, we urge you to purchase Greg's solo album, "On Wings of Song!" You'll find Greg playing the solo version there, and he continues to perform the work on many of his solo concerts. It would be unnecessarily confusing for him to learn both versions of the piece: a recipe for disaster. (It would be pretty embarrassing to slip into the two-piano version in the middle of a solo recital!) Similarly, although we used to play Ravel's La Valse in its two-piano version, we took it out of our performing repertoire when Liz started playing the solo version in concerts and competitions. Too confusing.

You're right; the antiphonal possibilities are wonderful in the two-piano version of Reminiscences de Norma, but (and a big "but" here), if we were to ever perform the work, Greg would insist upon recreating the six-or-so minutes of music that Liszt cut from the solo version in arranging the work. Liszt cut Greg's favorite arias (and the arias that add the most dramatic weight to the paraphrase, no less)!

Thanks for your interest in our work!