Rachmaninov’s towering Suite No 2, for two pianos, one of them the piano used by the composer himself when touring England – a bespoke composition, one could say – played by Joseph Tong and Waka Hasegawa will probably go down as the highlight of the current season at the Wiltshire Music Centre
It concluded a program prefaced by a reception for supporters of this jewel of a venue at which important Arts Council funding was announced, adding even more significance to the choice of program.
These two performers – as Piano 4 Hands probably now unmatched anywhere as a piano duo – have a synergy that borders on the surreal. How do they, sitting 14 or so feet away from each other, start so precisely together and, even more difficult, finish together? Yes, practice, practice, of course; but… The Rachmaninov, full-blooded yet with its moments of delicacy, was played with pertness and a crispness that was all enveloping; its richness drained the emotions; it made two pianos sound like a full orchestra. Chopin, Debussy, even Stravinsky to make the cup run over – any of those pieces could have been the star of the evening but for sheer versatility, Percy Grainger’s Fantasy on Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess was just out of this world.