Wednesday, May 13, 2015


Canberra International Music Festival
Fitters Workshop, May 4, 2015

Reviewed by Len Power

Piano duo Silvan Silver and her partner, Gil Garburg, have performed in approximately seventy countries on five continents.  This Canberra concert showed that their reputation is well-deserved.

The opening of Beethoven’s 1797 Sonata for four hands in D major, Op. 6 is reminiscent of the beginning of his Symphony No. 5.  The work is in two movements and the duo’s perfect four hand skills brought out all the drama and melody of this piece.

The longest item of the concert was Liszt’s Sonata in B minor (arr. Camille Saint-Saёns).  Played on two pianos, this complex work requires extraordinary abilities by the two players to maintain the correct timing.  There are moments in the playing of this work that seem almost duel-like and the sound and emotion produced by these masterful players was quite thrilling.

The final work, Camille Saint-Saёns Introduction and Rondo capriccioso in A minor (Arr. Claude Debussy) was written for a friend of Saint- Saёns, virtuoso violinist Pablo de Sarasate.  Claude Debussy made this four hands arrangement of it for piano.  Throbbing with fiery, strong melodic themes it was a great contrast to the Liszt and was played with great passion by the duo.

The audience was also treated to two superb encores of four-handed playing with Lecuona’s Malagueña and an item from Stravinsky’s Petrushka.

It was fascinating to see Silvan Silver so physically immersed in the music.  When playing momentarily with one hand, her free hand was often gracefully describing the music coursing through her.  It was clear in their presentation that, in spite of the complexity of the music, both players were keen to share the joy of playing this music with the audience.

Originally published in Canberra City News digital edition 5 May 2015