Güher & Süher Pekinel, Two Pianos Live in Concert – “Bach Jazz” (2001/2011)

by | Apr 4, 2011 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

Güher & Süher Pekinel, Two Pianos Live in Concert – “Bach Jazz” (2001/2011)

With Jacques Loussier Trio, English Chamber Orch./Sir Colin Davis
Program: BACH: Concerto in C minor for two pianos & strings BWV1060 (arr. by Loussier); Summer, from The Four Seasons by VIVALDI (arr. by Loussier); BACH: Triple Concerto in D minor (arr. by Loussier); Concerto in E minor for two pianos and string BWV 1062; RACHMANINOV: Suite No. 1 Op. 5 for Two Pianos
Studio: ArtHaus Musik 1101 389 [Distr. by Naxos]
Video: 16:9 color
Audio: PCM Stereo
Subtitles: English, German, French, Spanish, Turkish
Extras: “Double Life” documentary portrait of the Pekinels; Excerpts from their other DVD: Music of POULENC, MOZART, BRAHMS, MILHAUD, LUTOSLAWSKI
Length: 97 mins. (concerts); 30 min. (doc.); 13 mins. (excerpts)
Rating: *****

This is the second concert video from the very talented Turkish piano twins. We covered their first one back in 2009.  This one is not your usual straight-ahead two-piano recital, but opens with three selections from their appearance in 2001 at the Schwetzingen Festival in Germany with the Jacques Loussier Trio – famed for their Play Bach series of recordings over the years. The special collaboration produced two unique performances of familiar Bach multi-piano concertos – BWV 1060 and 1063 – the first originally for two pianos and orchestra and the second a Triple Concerto.  In between the Loussier Trio does their own arrangement of “Summer” from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.

We know that Bach’s music seems to work well on almost any instrument and in any style, but it’s a pleasant surprise to find that the swinging-Bach jazz-style arrangements of the Jacques Loussier Trio fit so well with these hoary two and three-piano concertos.  Loussier didn’t just create plain transcriptions – these are more than that.  New aspects of the works come out in these swinging interpretations.  And unlike many classical artists who dip their toes into the jazz world, the Pekinels know how to swing. The Pekinel sisters were plenty familiar with the Concerto for Two Pianos since they had recorded it as a straight classical version with the Zurich Chamber Orchestra.  They aren’t just classical artists letting their hair down for a laugh and indulging in some jazz – all five musicians involved here (Loussier himself sits out for the first concerto) are carefully planned and rehearsed and deliver a most enjoyable new look at some very hip Bach.

To give you an idea of what a straight-ahead Bach concerto for two pianos and strings sounds like with the Pekinels, the fourth selection on the disc is the Concerto in C minor BWV 1062, with Sir Colin Davis conducting the English Chamber Orchestra. The program is closed out with the Pekinels alone at their two pianos, in the complete Suite No. 1 “Fantasie-Tableaux” by Rachmaninov.  Then instead of the interview in German with the Pekinels which was on their first DVD, we have a colorful half-hour documentary on the twin sisters, showing them at various concert appearances around the world.  They handle most of the soundtrack commentary themselves, in English. The only criticism I would have of the fine documentary is the large amount of time devoted at the end to performances by some of the young students at their music school in Istanbul.  I can understand why they wanted to feature that, but it didn’t make a fitting conclusion to the documentary.

If the idea of Bach and Jazz appeals to you strongly, be sure to also have a look at two other DVDs we reviewed here in the past: Bach and Friends, and Swinging Bach – with Bobby McFerrin.

– John Sunier

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