Naughton sisters dazzle Washington in Terrace duo-piano recital

WASHINGTON, November 16, 2014 – The Naughton sisters, a bright, new pair of young duo-pianists, took the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater by storm last weekend in their initial Fortas Series recital.

Not only did twins Christina and Michelle rock the room with the two-piano, four-hand version of Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring,” kicking off the KenCen’s and the NSO’s weekend celebration of that pivotal modernist work. They also dazzled their enthusiastic audience with passionate but well-planned and nearly impeccable performances of Brahms’ “Variation on a Theme of Haydn,” for two pianos, Op. 56b; a two-piano version of Claude Debussy’s challenging “En blanc et noir”; and the “Variations on a Theme of Paganini for Two Pianos” by Witold Lutosławski (1913-1994).

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Masterful Piano Duo — The Naughton Twins at the Düsseldorf Tonhalle

In the past, piano duos have been a rarity in concert halls, as duets on a keyboard instrument were long perceived as inferior to solo performances. The history of four-handed playing stretches back to the 19th century, when piano duets developed into the most popular form of music-making at home — which gave the piano duet, whether four-handed on one instrument or with four hands on two separate instruments, its long-held reputation as the preserve of amateurs.

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What a pair of twins

Two twin pianists? Be careful! Those that first come to mind are not even twins. These, who our Philharmonic just debuted in Spain, are. And what a pair of twins: as good as or better than the other two sisters, whom they resemble in their silhouettes and attire even more than in musical terms, which is already a lot. Among the few of us that were in the Iturbi Hall, there were those who were already relishing the thought of what will be said when, in a few years, after all the praise in the mainstream media, the same hall overflows with enthralled spectators: “I saw them first and predicted they would go far.”

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Nashville Symphony Review

I did a double-take when the Naughton sisters, who appeared next, first walked onstage. These two young pianists from Madison, Wis., are identical twins, and they are also the real deal. Trained at the Juilliard School and Curtis Institute of Music, the Naughtons played Poulenc’s D-minor concerto with dramatic flair, tossing off brilliant passagework in the outer movements with ease while playing the Mozartean second movement with elegance and grace. The performance was as sparkling and effervescent as champagne. Poulenc, one of history’s most insouciant composers, would have loved it.

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Wichita Symphony Orchestra Kicks of Classic Series with Energy

Francis Poulenc’s “Concerto in D Minor for Two Pianos” anticipates a century of patchwork film music, splicing together Parisian cafe tunes, Mozart piano sonatas and even Balinese gamelan into a lively three movement pattern. Such a combination could come off as muddled or disjointed, but the concerto was brought to life by guest musicians Christina and Michelle Naughton, twin sisters who have made a specialty of duo piano works.

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A Sensation With Four Hands {Saale Zeitung} (Translation)

Bad Kissingen – Wow, how nice to see that it can still happen, a new sensation at the festival! The 24-year-old twin sisters Christina and Michelle Naughton from Philadelphia have been known in Europe for three years now. So far, only one CD has appeared, a recording of a concert at Radio Bremen. But the audience already realized during Mendelssohn’s Andante and Variations Bb-Major, op. 83a that the two young women are not only almost limitless masters of technique, they also possess an equal mastery of musical intuition, creativity, and precision.

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Like a fairytale being with four hands

The twin sisters Christina and Michelle Naughton caused heads to turn simply by their presence at the concert held by the Ingolstadt Music Society at the Ingolstadt Concert Hall. As they began to play, however, the audience was left spellbound.  One would be tempted to write about robotic perfection, but any allusion to machines cannot do them justice; the Naughtons are extremely gifted musicians who play (from memory throughout) with great abandon and incredible expression.

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Ladies in Blue Debut at ISGM

An auspicious local debut on March 10th at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum came in a duo-piano program by Christina and Michelle Naughton, 24-year-old identical twins from Madison, Wisconsin, by way of the Curtis Institute and a three-year touring career, a good part of which was in Europe. They offered a wide-ranging recital—just the ticket for a proper introduction—the scope of which would be hard to discern from the limited information the ISG provided on its website. Also, in part to make up for deficiencies in the program notes (i.e., there weren’t any), for the benefit of any perplexed audience members we will do a bit more background on the pieces than might be strictly necessary for a review. And speaking of proper introductions and limited information, for the benefit of those of the (full house) audience who don’t know the duo personally or weren’t able to ask them after the concert, Christina was the one in the dark blue scoop-necked gown, while Michelle had the dark blue off-the-shoulder gown. Apparently, these twins are given to pawky pranks such as wearing identical clothing, so we were a bit lucky for these small distinguishing elements.

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Review-Kiel Philharmonic-Carnival of the Animals and Poulenc Concerto

Kiel.  It is likely that the average age in a philharmonic concert has never been as low as it was yesterday morning, when GMD Georg Fritzsch lured many families with children to the Carnival of the Animals. The artistic offering was in no way diminished by being labeled “junior”, however, since US piano duo, the Naughton sisters, played magnificently and effortlessly.

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Orchestra, guest conductor Krivine rise to Stokowski program - Philadelphia Inquirer

Poulenc’s Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra can seem like the least of his concertos, but it made a smashing impression with Krivine’s tight control over its sprawling musical references – cabaret music, silent-film scores, bits of Mozart – plus emphasis on its gutsy percussion. Also, the two-piano sister duo Christina and Michelle Naughton took the opposite tack of the better-known Labeque Sisters, playing with great sensitivity and nuanced interplay between their two instruments. Both were so captivating, one would want to hear them individually.

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Twice as good: The Naughton piano duo at the Kammermusiksaal in Berlin - Der Tagesspiegel

When it comes to marketing, piano duos made up of two twins certainly have an advantage. But while most duos are faced with the almost impossible challenge of putting themselves in the place of a their partner and learning to imitate that person, for twins, there is a much greater risk that the players will lose their individuality when harmonizing with each other, or that the players will not stray far from the comfort zone offered by their synchronicity.

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Mozart’s Two Pianos Dazzle in NC Symphony Program

Happily, the duo pianists Christina and Michelle Naughton brought an altogether sunnier mood to the double piano concerto, K.365, in E-flat, of Mozart. This is a relatively early work, dating to circa 1780, scored for a rather small ensemble of strings, with pairs of oboes, bassoon, and horns. The ensemble of the two keyboard players was simply superb, and the music benefited from their lovely cantabile and expressive articulation.

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Naughton Sisters Chill, Astound with Pianos

Last night at the Performing Arts Center, pianists Christina and Michelle Naughton opened with Mendelssohn’s “Andante and Allegro Brilliante in A Major, Op. 92” for four hands. Although two players and four hands were playing on one piano, the piece sounded as one; the only pauses in this piece were the ones that Mendelssohn intended.

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