CD — Christina & Michelle Naughton "Visions"

By Thorsten Preuß, BR Klassik

Perhaps it is just a game. Like exuberant children throwing a ball back and forth, the two pianos interact - playful, effortless, carefree. They fully embrace the here and now in the joy the moment. But perhaps it is more than just a game. If you pay closer attention and dive beneath the glittering, effervescent surface, you can hear the pianos repeatedly calling out a magical word — Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

"Hallelujah Junction" is one of John Adams' best works, both groovy and soulful at the same time. Adams even named his autobiography after this piece. Here, the piece serves as the finale and highlight of an extraordinary CD from an extraordinary piano duo. Christina and Michelle Naughton are identical twins who match each other so perfectly that their teacher at the renowned Juilliard School at times believed that he was listening to one person with four hands. The New York pianists inherited their fondness of complex rhythms and modern tones from their parents, who are both mathematicians, and the young duo have managed to stay outside of the mainstream in their captivating first album for a big label by a wise choice of programming.


Christina and Michelle Naughton offset this nimble hallelujah by John Adams with one of the most profound piano cycles of the twentieth century. In "Visions de l’Amen", Olivier Messiaen sets forth a powerful theological construct, encompassing ideas ranging from creation to the death of Jesus, and reaching up to the stars and planets of the cosmos. However, the seven movements also contain a hidden message — a tender declaration of love addressed to Messiaen's then duo partner and future wife, Yvonne Loriod.


Christina and Michelle Naughton make Messiaen's visions shimmer bright and light like crystal-clear holy water. The relaxed tranquility and powerful virtuosity of the suite express the same joy that drives forward the piece by John Adams and perfuses the small Bach transcription by György Kurtág that completes the CD. Other recordings of this miniature piece may move you even more, but with this concept album, which probes spiritual and secular topics in a fascinating way, the Naughton twins have stormed the heavens with effortless ease.

Flaco Zacarias