|The Latsos Piano Duo: Giorgi Latso and Anna Fedorova-Latso.|
Latsos Piano Duo, “First Fridays at First!~fff,” First Lutheran Church, Torrance
DAVID J BROWN
Unlike the South Bay Chamber Music Society—which for its new 2021-2022 season has reverted entirely to the Society's time-honored format of mounting the same concert twice in two different venues over one weekend, before live audiences and without videotaping, preliminary or otherwise—Classical Crossroads Inc. are adopting a more cautious, step-by-step approach to their new seasons of "Second Sundays at Two" and “First Fridays at First!~fff” recitals.
The initial "[email protected]" concert of 2021-2022, by pianist Althea Waites, was videotaped in isolation and posted on September 12 for on-line enjoyment here, but both the first two “[email protected]!” concerts were recorded before small audiences of "Special Friends and Top Supporters." September's recital, by violinist YuEun Kim and pianist Sung Chang, can be heard here, while October's, a piano duo recital of works by Mendelssohn, Chopin, Debussy, Schubert, and Souza, was given last Monday and videotaped for posting on line on "First Friday", October 1.
|Felix Mendelssohn, sketch|
by Friedrich von Schadow.
They clearly have the piece in this form firmly in their repertoire—"in this form" because while the main Allegro assai vivace movement was published alone as Op. 92 in 1851, four years after Mendelssohn's death, the Andante section that precedes it in the composer's manuscript only achieved print in 1994. At their previous performance I found this too brief to counterbalance the long fast section, but on the other hand it seemed too lengthy to be just a "slow introduction."
Whether it was the performance or just me, this time around the Andante felt perfectly fine in that role, perhaps because with its clear recapitulatory structure the Allegro could easily have been the first movement of a never-to-be-pursued sonata, and as such the addition of a two-and-a-half minute slow introduction had plenty of precedents in Classical sonata-structure movements. Either way, the Latsos clearly love and were totally on top of the piece, the intricate cross-cutting of their 20 flashing digits as mesmerising visually as the intricate clockwork of Mendelssohn's musical pattern-making beguiled the ears.
Each member of the Duo followed this with a solo item. First, Giorgi Latso delivered a rambunctious, propulsive account of Chopin's 1842 Polonaise No. 6 in A-flat major, Op. 53 B. 147 that fully lived up to the work's nickname of Héroique. Interestingly, the Anglo-German musicologist Sir Charles Hallé (1819-1895) wrote: "Once Chopin told me that he felt very unhappy when he heard the grande polonaise in A flat major played fast, as it spoilt the whole grandeur and majesty of that noble inspiration." I think he might have liked Mr. Latso's interpretation.
Schubert's catalog of works for the four hands medium is extensive—some 50 in number, including his very earliest known, the Fantasie in G major D 1. The present Sonata in B-flat major was written in 1818, probably for two young aristocratic pupils to play, and despite having been published in his lifetime (something sadly infrequent for Schubert's works) now seems to be somewhat neglected, to judge by the few recordings listed on ArkivMusic.
It was thus a particular pleasure to be acquainted with it, for the first time for this listener (there is always something new to discover in Schubert's vast oeuvre), and in a performance as affectionate as that of the Latsos—light on repeats, its three movements were all over in not much more than 16 minutes, no Schubertian "heavenly lengths" here! With technical demands (presumably) as modest for the players as the work is modest in scale, the Latsos' performance of Schubert's Sonata did nothing to prepare one for the virtuosity with which they tackled the final item.
Friday, October 1, here.
“First Fridays at First!~fff,” First Lutheran Church, Torrance, 12.15pm, Friday, October 1 (recorded Monday, September 27), 2021.
Images: The Latsos: artists' website; Mendelssohn, Ravel: Wikimedia Commons; Stars and Stripes: Library of Congress.
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