As students of the late Yonty Solomon at the Royal College of Music, Simon Callaghan and Hiroaki Takenouchi met in 2003 and have since had a thriving duo partnership, giving concerts throughout the UK, Europe and Japan.
As well as playing all the mainstream works for both piano four hands and two pianos, the Parnassius Piano Duo are particularly keen advocates of lesser-known repertoire. Recent recital programmes have included works by Medtner and Sterndale Bennett, and their latest disc (released in February 2019 on the Lyrita label) presents world premiere recordings of two works by Percy Sherwood alongside Parry’s ‘Grosses Duo’ for two pianos. Simon and Hiroaki also have a busy international calendar of solo and chamber music engagements.
SAINT-SAËNS THE ARRANGER
Given the 'romantic' nature of these two sonatas, Saint-Saëns could have been forgiven for producing two-piano versions that treated the originals as bases for his own imaginings. In fact, as far as a fourth party can judge, he has been scrupulous in respecting the composers' intentions. Wherever either piano is playing on its own, it plays the original text. Beyond that, of course, are the host of more complex textures where Saint-Saëns has felt free to add notes for extra emphasis. Perhaps the most satisfying admixture of colour comes in the Chopin Funeral March, where extra low octaves in the bass boom like the beating of a bass drum. But throughout, the relative, new-found simplicity of each piano part allows performers to phrase more subtly. No doubt Liszt had these points in mind when he considered making such a transcription of his sonata, alas never realized. But he greatly admired Saint-Saëns as both composer and pianist, and one cannot but imagine he would have approved his fine arrangement. © 2020 Roger Nichols