A Double Star in the Piano Sky Over Homburg
Homburg. US twins Christina and Michelle Naughton, educated and crowned with prizes at the prestigious Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, are recent double stars in the universe of piano duos.
On Thursday, they found their way to the Homburg Master Concerts. The introductory Opus 92 of Mendelssohn-Bartholdy immediately made you listen: the way they divided the melodic lines seamlessly, and the intelligent and finely nuanced way they presented the exuberant Allegro, promised everything that later followed. We were also stunned by the serene and mature interpretation of Schubert’s “Lebensstürmen” D 947 by the two pianists, who played the entire program by heart.
In spite of their identical exteriors and mirror image-like gestures and modes of playing, throughout the concert they increasingly exhibited more individuality. These twins are not interchangeable. With the Haydn-Variations by Brahms, played at two grand pianos, the listeners enjoyed the breathtaking precision of their interaction as well as the knotty character of the composition.
After the intermission came the virtuosic, artistic part. There was only one caveat with Ravel’s “La Valse:” the morbid fin-de-siècle-decadence of this swan song to the old Vienna came up a bit short when compared to the performance by the Duo Argerich/Freire, which is still unbeatable. The Dionysian frenzy, however, was intoxicating. And not a minute after this tour de force, the two of them launched into a finely chiseled Mozart’s KV 448. The fact that here even the trills were synchronized surprised no one at this point. Equally unsurprising was the pianistic acrobatics in Lutoslawski’s electrifying “Paganini-Variations”. There was thunderous applause and three encores for this double star, which could soon prove to be a supernova.