Two sisters & two Steinways

Arzu and Gamze Kirtil │Piano Duos │ Philharmonie Luxembourg

If you’re a classical music novice, a concert with a twin-sister piano duo could be a good place to start, and if you’re an experienced listener and concert goer, such a duo could be refreshing. Especially when the repertoire is audience friendly, with pieces by some of the greatest composers, and at the same time challenging because the pieces are written for four hands.

Judging by the attentiveness and looks of appreciation, the audience who nearly filled up the Salle de Musique de Chambre at the Philharmonie in Luxembourg yesterday would agree. They had come to see and hear the Turkish pianists and twin sisters Arzu and Gamze Kirtil.

Wearing long, sleeveless Greek inspired dresses, one in black and one in pale pink, the sisters entered the stage, immediately took possession of the two shining Steinways and embarked on a piano journey – sometimes two pianos, sometimes four hands on one piano.

The journey started in the Polish countryside, where a young man named Frédéric spent a summer composing Rondo in C Major for two pianos. The music is youthful, light and virtuoso as Chopin might have been that summer, and much like the sisters at the pianos.

A Shakespearean stop over through extracts from Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream before heading to Spain through the intensity, drama and dance of Ravel’s Rapsodie Espagnole. From Spanish temperament to Russian melancholy – but also cheerfulness and a bit of drama – with Brahms’ Souvenir de la Russie, and then leaving the 19th century, yet staying in Russia, with the dramatic-delicate exchange of Shostakovich’s Concertino for Two Pianos in A minor.

Time to go local and modern with Luxembourgish composer Camille Kerger  and his Ausklänge before ending the journey where it started; in Poland, where Lutoslawski wrote his playful Variations on a Theme by Paganini for Two Pianos during World War II.

Arzu and Gamze Kirtil guided the audience with experience, confidence, precision, delicatesse, and an unbelievable level of concentration and coordination through tempo and mood variations, seemingly without effort. Yet the rapid movements of their upper arm muscles during the many quick passages, and their slight head movements, sometimes with the exact same tilt, revealed the effort.

They felt as one, yet with the musical impact of two wonderful pianists, leaving the impression that they were not trying to outshine each other, rather just wanting to be the best they can be together.

Which was more than good enough for the audience, who wanted more.  And so the journey continued to their native Turkey, on a lovely Wintermorgen in Istanbul  as expressed in music by Turkish composer Fazil Say.

This was a launch concert for Arzu and Game Kirtil’s new CD “Arzu and Gamze Kirtil Piano Duos”, which can be bought here.

Read a portrait of Arzu here.


By Unni Holtedahl, May 2014 (the humble review of a listener and music lover)

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