Introducing Duo Feola

For those keen on the piano duo repertoire (both duet and two-piano) – and it’s hard not to be! – these forthcoming concerts are sure to be a pre-Christmas highlight. Contemporary works and lesser known gems sit alongside traditional favourites, and all three concerts feature Italian pianists, Duo Feola. The programmes include works by C. Debussy, R. Hahn, P. A. Grainger, A. Casella, I. Stravinsky, L. Durey and C. Norton.

The concert at Stowe School on December 13th 2017 (in Buckinghamshire) will be a two-piano concert, whereas those at the Christian Science Church on December 14th (in York, North of the UK), and at Peregrine’s Pianos on December 15th (in London), will focus on piano duet repertoire.

Duo Feola are a piano duo from Bergamo.  Sisters Nicoletta and Angela Feola, have been performing together since they were small, and studied at Conservatorio “Giuseppe Verdi” in Milan, continuing their studies at Salzburg’s Mozarteum with Alfons Kontarsky and at Trinity College, London, completing a Masters in Advanced Recital Piano Duet.

They have played for concerts and festivals all over Europe, and have recently recorded a CD featuring the music of Hindemith for the label Art Voice. They have also been featured on radio and television broadcasts in Italy, Germany and Poland.

Duo Feola’s  repertoire is large, ranging from Bach to contemporary music. A number of composers – Matteo Segafreddo, Irlando Danieli, Angelo Paccagnini and Goffredo Haus have written music dedicated to them. Most recently, Christopher Norton, the renowned composer of Microjazz, has written an Italian Suite for 2 Pianos for Duo Feola and it will receive its UK premiere, along with a new Anatolian-Portuguese Suite for 2 Pianos, also written by Norton (both published by 80dayspublishing, Christopher’s own publishing company). The composer will also play (at all three concerts) some of his more popular works, particularly those on examination board syllabuses.

You can reserve your tickets on eventbrite: December 13th at Stowe SchoolDecember 14th at the Christian Science Society, or December 15th at Peregrine’s Pianos, or alternatively buy them at the door.

Hope to see you there!








Carnival of the Animals for Two Pianos

French Romantic composer Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921) wrote Le Carnaval des Animaux in 1886. It was originally scored for two pianos, two violins, viola, cello, double bass, flute (and piccolo), clarinet (C and B flat), glass harmonica and xylophone, but there are several arrangements, including one for two pianos by Ralph Berkowitz. Designed as a ‘fun’ piece, intended for Saint-Saëns’ students,  the work consists of fourteen short movements depicting various animals. Whilst it was performed privately on a few occasions (including a performance at the home of Pauline Viardot, with Franz Liszt in the audience), Saint-Saëns’ forbid Le Carnaval des Animaux to be published or played during his lifetime, believing it detracted from his status as a serious composer. Eventually Saint-Saëns relented, and the The Swan (the penultimate work with the famous cello solo), was published in an arrangement for cello and piano.

Le Carnaval des Animaux  has since become Saint-Saëns’ most famous and well-loved piece, and is especially popular with children.  The composer’s characterisation of each animal is illuminating and often humorous, with plenty of comical musical ideas and motifs. The Personnages à longues oreilles (movement 8) is thought to be directed at music critics, who are also supposedly the last animals heard during the finale, braying. Movement 10, Pianistes, depicts pianists diligently working at their scales, and movement 4, Tortues employs the well-known Galop infernal from Jacques Offenbach’s operetta Orpheus in the Underworld, playing the usually brisk melody at a very slow, whimsical pace.

The following performance was recorded in 1996 (on a home video) at a recital given by Russian pianist Olga Balakleets and myself, as part of the Primavera Musicale Italiana Festival held at St. James’s Church, in Piccadilly, London.