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Piano-Duo Tal & Groethuysen

When Yaara Tal and Andreas Groethuysen provisionally formed a piano duo in 1985 for a single concert, they naturally did not realise how important this step would be, both for themselves personally and for the entire genre. The unforeseeably positive artistic development and the continuing interest displayed by the record label SONY CLASSICAL and the international concert market, however, meant that Tal and Groethuysen gradually matured into one of the programmatically most exciting and tonally and aesthetically perfect piano duos in the world.

During the first few years of their career together Andreas and Yaara devoted themselves primarily to playing on one piano, which is more complicated and from the point of view of the audience at first not quite so effective. In recent years, however, they have altered their focus and are now delighted to record and give concerts of the fascinating repertoire for two pianos, which is to some extent still unknown.

News

New CD release: POLONAISE

It was Christmas 2013 when two volumes of music from the publishers G. Henle appeared on my piano. They contained all the piano works composed by Franz Xaver Mozart (1791 - 1844), some of them published for the first time. It must have been a remarkable experience to have had Wolfgang Amadeus as a father, and the music composed by such a son - whether important or merely of marginal significance for the history of music - is certainly surrounded by a special aura

It was my first encounter with his compositions, but it would be too sweeping a statement to say that it was love at first sight. Nevertheless they aroused my curiosity and desires.

Then I discovered his polonaises and there was no escape any more.

The birth of the romantic polonaise

In a cruel twist of fate, Mozart’s son was born only four months before the death of his father. Although he was granted no time to get to know him, his destiny remained inextricably entwined with his famous father to the end of his days. His mother Constanze adopted the strategy of showcasing his existence in public, thereby turning him into an article from the “Mozart brand” that she knew only too well how to market. Though delicate and fragile by nature, the boy was assigned the role of the brilliant and successful heir: it was his mission in life to become as glorious as his father. That he was able to sustain a musical career at all, despite this enormous pressure, is perhaps the most incontrovertible sign of his remarkable gifts as a pianist and composer.

In the following concerts by the duo this summer Yaara will also perform some of the most beautiful polonaises by Franz Xaver Mozart:

New CD release: COLORS

“I find it hard to feel anything but enthusiasm for this work,” wrote Debussy in 1907 after attending a performance of Salome in Paris, conducted by the composer himself.

By way of contrast, Strauss's comment after the first act of Debussy's opera Pelléas et Mélisande was considerably less positive. “Does it go on like this all the time? … Nothing else? … There is nothing … No music … No development ...”

Nevertheless Strauss continued to occupy himself with Debussy's music and shortly afterwards conducted the Austrian première of the Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune.”
However, Debussy's reaction after his first encounter with Till Eulenspiegel in 1901 sounds very critical: “This piece is like one hour of new music among lunatics.”

Although the opinions of these two composers of genius and musical innovators as to how music was supposed to be constituted certainly differed widely, they were both indebted to a greater or lesser degree to Wagner. Neither faune nor Till can manage without the Tristan chord. In faune it is the first chord in the piece (after the dreamy cantilena) and in Till it is the second theme that twines itself around the famous chord.

This CD seeks to position itself between the poles of the works of Debussy and Strauss and is thus another production by the duo – after “1915” – to deal with Debussy in the light of his contemporaries and inevitably again forges a bridge to Wagner (“Twilight of the Gods – Homage to Wagner on both banks of the River Rhine”).

Maestro Reinhard Goebel engaged Yaara for a production with the Munich Radio Orchestra

What links the aria “Wenn man will zu Mädchen gehen” from Dittersdorf's opera Der Apotheker und Doktor (The Doctor and the Apothecary) with the aria “Se voi bramate” from the opera Il re Teodoro in Venezia (King Theodore in Venice) by Paisiello and a further twenty arias from the 1780's?

They were extremely popular in Vienna at that time and could be heard everywhere, and the composer Ferdinand Kauer (1751 – 1831), who is completely forgotten today, moulded them into a fantasia for a keyboard instrument.

A modern version of this work for piano and orchestra was produced in the middle of June 2017 by the Munich Radio Orchestra under Reinhard Goebel with Yaara at the piano.

Photo: Ulrich PlutaPhoto: Ulrich PlutaPhoto: Ulrich Pluta
Photos: Ulrich Pluta 

Studies based on Bach’s “The Art of Fugue” for two pianos
by Reinhard Febel (born 1952)

Commissioned by the Ansbacher Bachwoche (Ansbach Bach Week)

Studien nach Bachs Kunst der Fuge von Reinhard Febel

It seems a bit strange. Bach’s fugues as originally written are complex and in themselves - as it were - perfect, and now a contemporary composer turns up and wants to further develop this polyphonic structure. How can that work?

Studies can be understood as a synonym for études, the sort of exercise composed by Czerny, for example, or on a higher level, by Chopin or Debussy. In other words, pieces of music that enable the performer to practise a specific musical difficulty and that increase his competence by being constantly repeated. They can be rhythmic, pianistic or purely tonal exercises.

But studies can also be understood as compositional études, in other words pieces that demand that the composer practises a certain skill. The difference being that the composer doesn’t start from scratch, but takes a piece that already exists as his starting-point and “practises” on it.

“A study based on” can therefore also be understood as “a fantasy on” or “inspired by”. It is possible for a composer to hear a work by another master and be completely thrilled or even aroused by it - he would really love to have written it himself. But that is of course impossible. What he can do, though, is give free rein to his own creativity, set it free and lend it wings and present the result as a “study”.

In Febel’s case all these interpretations apply. The two pianists will have to practise a great deal together to master the work, and the composer had to study the brilliant original very carefully in order to understand it properly, to devise and to develop such ingenious and exquisite modifications.

In Ansbach seven out of the total of eighteen studies were perfprmed. We hope that in the course of the next few years we will be able to gradually work on all the remaining studies and eventually perform them as a full evening’s recital.

Komponist Reinhard Febel; Foto: Jim Albright
Composer Reinhard Febel, Photo Jim Albright

Photo: Bachwoche AnsbachPhoto: Bachwoche AnsbachPhoto: Bachwoche AnsbachPhoto: Bachwoche AnsbachPhoto: Bachwoche AnsbachPhoto: Bachwoche AnsbachPhoto: Bachwoche Ansbach
Photos: Bachwoche Ansbach

Arnold Schönberg Center
24.3.2015 - Successfull concert with Yaara Tal from Piano Duo Tal & Groethuysen, with her first solo program.

Tal & Groethuysen  Tal & Groethuysen
Tal & Groethuysen  Tal & Groethuysen

"1915": CD-Release 14.08.2015!

It is more than two years since our last recording session for a CD containing only piano duets. That was the „Götterdämmerung” CD, which heralded the start of the Wagner year of 2013 for us. Our homage to Wagner was, however, unthinkable without Debussy; in the course of that year and in 2014, too, we frequently and with great pleasure performed our programme “Twilight of the gods. Homage to Wagner on both banks of the River Rhine” and thereby developed a specific taste for Debussy. It was a stroke of fate that we studied the transcription of “La Mer” (version for two pianos by A. Caplet) in order to realise our project “Traummeer”, and it fitted in very neatly with our plan to focus more intensively on music from France in the next few years.

So in the first few days of the New Year we recorded a new CD of piano duets with works by Reynaldo Hahn and Claude Debussy. All the works are “French children of war” and reflect the intellectual and emotional state of these two composers in the second year of carnage.

More detailed information about the CD can be found under "1915".

The CD is a co-production by Sony and the Bayerischer Rundfunk (Bavarian Broadcasting Corporation) and was recorded in Studio 2 at the BR. We have special memories of this recording mainly because of two pleasant experiences. The beauty of the Steinway grand pianos was out of this world, and they were capable of rare tonal modulation. And – although it is hard to believe – the very first positioning of the microphones simply worked. There was no need – as is often the case – for wearisome trying out. This was a masterly achievement by the sound design team, and we would here like to thank the excellent team: Christian Rabus (piano tuner), Jörg Moser (tonmeister), Gerhard Wicho (sound engineer), Bernadette Rueb (sound technician), Rolf Müller (sound assistant) and - last but not least – Falk Häfner (editor).

At the end of our time in the studio we took several photos of the entire team – but unfortunately none of them is really usable. So that at least an idea of the atmosphere can be conveyed in pictorial form, here is nevertheless a photo with two grand pianos and three gentlemen (l. – r.: Christian, Jörg and Gerhard) ...

1915

Yaara's first solo album: Haydn: The Seven last Words of our Saviour on the Cross

In the last days of October 2013 I recorded a solo CD. The main feature was Haydn’s passion music “The Last Seven Words of our Saviour on the Cross.” Originally composed for an orchestra, the version for a string quartet is part of the standard repertoire for this genre. What is not so well-known is that there is also a version for a keyboard instrument. When the publishers Henle produced a reliable edition of the work some years ago, I was attracted to the idea of one day giving voice to this meditation on the piano.

Yaara Tal


Yaara Tal
Gustav Eckart

A Call from Salzburg

From the Winter Semester 2014 onwards there will be a major change in our life, since we will start teaching at the Mozarteum in Salzburg. The institution and the city itself have always exercised a great fascination - not only for the two of us - and we are both curious and excited as we look forward to this new chapter in our lives.

To be more precise, the greater share of the new workload will fall on Andreas, since in addition to our joint speciality, piano duos, he will also be teaching a class for solo pianists. Naturally, this new task will force us to organise our routine of concerts and daily practice even more strictly, and we will therefore have to manage the commodity “time” even more conscientiously. A wonderful and exciting challenge.

5th ECHO Klassik for the Concert Recording of the Year (20th/21st century music)

Prize winners with the album: Ralph Vaughan Williams: Concerto for twoPianos & Orchestra/Symphony No. 5 (Sony Classical).

 


New CD-Release

Yaaras 2. Solo-CD!

Polonaise
Yaara Tal

Polonaise

Release: August 11, 2017
Label: Sony Classical


Colors
Duo Tal & Groethuysen

Colors

Release: August 11, 2017
Label: Sony Classical


The Art of Tal & Groethuysen
BOX - 10 CDs
Duo Tal & Groethuysen

The Art of Tal & Groethuysen

Release: March 4, 2016
Label: Sony Classical


1915

Claude Debussy, Reynaldo Hahn
Duo Tal & Groethuysen

1915

Release: August 14, 2015
Label: Sony Classical


Yaaras 1. Solo-CD!

Seven Last Words
Haydn, Schönberg, Bartok
Yaara Tal

Seven Last Words

Release: September 05, 2014
Label: Sony Classical