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Four hands–one piano

By Michael Pearl

And, I should mention, two pairs of very elegant heels! The Guevara and Zhelezova Piano Duo are not just the most talented piano duo in Latin America, but the best looking as well…and wait until you see the sensual way they play the piano and twist and turn around it like elegant dancers performing a musical ballet on the black and white keys. All this can be yours by coming to either of the duo’s Pro Musica concerts.

Pro Musica presents Guevara Zelezova Piano Duo
Sat, Dec 1, 5pm & Sun, Dec 2, 4pm
St. Paul’s Church
Calle Cardo 6
300/200100 pesos

Composers and performers alike have long recognized the unique appeal of four-hand duets. The attraction of four-hand piano comes from the richness of the bass combined with the intricacies of the upper keyboard registers. The complex arrangements gain an extra resonance from the acoustic properties of the single instrument. Four-hand arrangements benefit from the musical interpretations of both players and allow the pianists to weave their personalities into the performance.

That said, there is some confusion as to what exactly is a piano duo. Technically, the expression refers to a genre of music written for two pianists to play at either one or two pianos; or to the two pianists themselves! There are many famous duos in the annals of classical music. Most of these pianists performed works for four-hands piano; that is two pianists at one piano—which is also known as a piano duet—as well as works for two pianos, often with orchestras or chamber ensembles. Some of these teams focussed exclusively or predominantly on this repertoire, but some also appeared separately as solo pianists.

Now that you are thoroughly confused, let’s get it straight and tell you that Citlallli Guevara and Slavina Zhelezova will play together at the same time on our gorgeous 1927 Steinway. The ladies decided not use their first names in the title of the duo, but that is a flexible feast amongst duos, as well. Some piano duos appear under a single name—such as the Long Island Piano Duo or Piano Pinnacle—or a unified name—such as Nettle & Markham—but the majority simply uses both their names, like Katia and Marielle Labeque or Bracha Eden and Alexander Tamir.

I hope you will agree that Guevara Zhelezova as a name has an undeniable romanticism about it, as befits a young and glamorous Mexican/Bulgarian team. This exotic combination will also play some of the most romantic and enjoyable music ever written for four-hands piano. The programs range eclectically from Brahms’ Hungarian Dances to Astor Piazzolla tangos, with classic pieces such as Mozart’s Sonata for Four Hands Piano in D Major, as well as Rachmaninoff’s famous gems of Six Pieces for Four Hands.

The piano duet came to popularity in the second half of the 18th century, partly due to Mozart playing duets as a child with his sister, and he later wrote several sonatas for four hands at one piano, including the one which will be performed this weekend; Jane Bellingham, writing in The Oxford Companion to Music, lists other composers who wrote piano duets, including Brahms, Dvořák, Grieg, Debussy, Stravinsky, and Bartók, of which we will hear several. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, French piano duets included Bizet‘s Jeux d’enfants, Fauré‘s Dolly Suite and Ravel‘s Ma Mère l’Oye. Citlalli and Slavina will also play this last famous piece, which we know in English as The Mother Goose Suite.

These two concerts are not to be missed; and children as well as adults will love the extra drama and action of two ladies and four hands whirling around and captivating young and old alike with their exuberant charm and talent.

Tickets for the Guevara Zelezova Piano Duo can be purchased at any of our ticket sales outlets: La Tienda in La Biblioteca, Insurgentes 25; Solutions, Mesones 57; St. Paul’s Church, calle Cardo 6, Monday-Friday, 10am-4pm, and at the door half an hour before the concert begins.

The quality of the music, opera and dance we bring to San Miguel, our unique Rhythm, Rhyme & Reason program, teaching music in underprivileged schools in the campo, and our teaching work in the city’s orphanages, costs increasing amounts of money to provide. The best way to help us fund our activities is to become a Patron Member. Patron membership costs as little US$100 per year, is US tax deductible, and includes many benefits, such as complimentary concert tickets and Meet the Artists suppers and cocktail parties. For information on all of Pro Musica’s concerts for the 2012-2013 season and Patron Membership, please visit our website:

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