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Pin boardYaara Tal & Andreas GroethuysenAndreas GroethuysenYaara Tal

Yaara Tal and Andreas Groethuysen

The central focus of the duo’s lives is of course music. More specifically, everything connected with music for piano duos. And if we consider the time involved in planning and arranging programmes, corresponding with agents and record companies, the actual time spent at the piano, research, writing texts, etc, it becomes clear that is a full-time job. There is hardly any time left for any earth-shattering hobbies …

Nevertheless the duo has numerous interests apart from playing the piano. Some of them are activities that only one of the two engages in; others are pursued by Andreas & Yaara together.

Hans Gött

The Munich painter Hans Gött (1883 – 1974) is one of their mutual interests. It is a rather curious story – and this is perhaps not the right place to discuss it in detail – but over the last few year the extensive estate of this productive artist, who was – as Andreas only discovered recently – his grandfather, has ended up in the duo’s possession. It consists of oil paintings, watercolours, etchings, prints, drawings in crayon, illustrations for books, etc.

The duo has had those works which were visibly damaged restored, has had a large number of paintings elaborately framed, and are now faced with a task which they are pursuing with passion, but which threatens to overwhelm them: that of cataloguing the collection. This means photographing the individual works, measuring and describing them, if possible dating them, and then filing them.

Before World War II Gött was a respected painter, and his works were accepted by renowned museums, such as the Lenbach Gallery, the Neue Pinakothek and the Bavarian State Collection of Graphic Art.

As Gött focussed on principle exclusively on representational art, his work was no longer commercially “relevant” in the post-war period and was exhibited less frequently. There were exceptions: for example, exhibtions devoted to the painters who had studied in the Académie Matisse in Paris at the start of the 20th century. Hans Gött was one of them, and his work unmistakeably displays French influences at the same time as speaking a language of its own. It can be said that a special characteristic of Gött’s work is an inner serenity, the absence of any desire to impress the beholder, to tell a story, let alone to make a socio-political statement. What was important for him was the pure representational depiction either of nature (landscapes) or of people (nudes or portraits), without any ulterior motive.

A small selection of the extensive oeuvre of Hans Gött can be found here.

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The Orlandus Lassus Foundation

A charitable activity that is mainly Yaara’s domain is her work on the board of trustees of the Orlandus Lassus Foundation. This foundation, which by its statutes is part of the Rotary Club Munich International, supports talented and needy students at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Munich. Every year the foundation awards two scholarships worth €6,000 each as well as specific non-cash benefits. As is so often the case with Rotary Club projects, close personal contact with the (former) scholars is kept up over the years and they continue to be supported in legal and other matters.

Andreas and Yaara, who were themselves once students at the Munich University of Music, perform regularly at benefit concerts put on by the foundation, for example in the Great Hall of the University in March 2008 (see the photos).

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The International Max Reger Society

When Yaara Tal and Andreas Groethuysen formed a piano duo in 1985, the chose for their very first piano concert a programme that included, among other works, a piece by the composer Max Reger. It was Six Burlesques, op.58, for piano for four hands. The duo found these miniatures simply delightfully witty and breathtakingly virtuoso. Max Reger is one of a number of composers whose name is well-known, but whose works are relatively rarely found on the programmes of concerts.

It is legitimate to ask why, but in order that one day the question need not be posed any more, the duo have been active for years in the International Max Reger Society, which is based in Karlsruhe and of which Yaara is Vice-President.

Why then is it so hard for Reger to conquer the concert platform? First of all, many composers have only achieved true fame years after their death. (Recent examples are Mahler and – on a different scale – Conlon Nancarrow.)

Secondly, Reger does not make it easy for us. His music is consistently very complex and almost always over-full. The consumer (the audience) and even more so the performer must thin it out, filter the great variety of tonal information, order it and reduce it to the bare essentials in order to appreciate the beauty and genius of the composition. And this is by no means easy. At times it can be very hard work, but is usually well worth the effort.

However, the duo regard one concert with a work by Max Reger as a very special highlight for them. It was during a performance of Reger’s Suite op. 16, originally composed for the organ. (The duo played the world première of the composer’s own version for piano for four hands.) Reger composed this extended work during a period of acute self-doubt and this very intensive production as it were catapulted him out of his crisis. The work certainly has a religious element, but it is not essentially ecclesiastical, rather it is deeply human. Now during the concert this true voice had liberated itself and had led the duo. It is difficult to describe, but they felt that as performers they could let go, simply surrender to the work and rely on it. These count as the happiest moments on the concert platform. But it has never happened again since then …

In order that such experiences do not remain isolated incidents and that the pleasures of this unique creator become available to a wider audience, the duo are active in the International Max Reger Society, which co-operates closely with the Reger city of Weiden and with the Max Reger Institut in Karlsruhe.

Private Pictures

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This is Andreas’s field. There are probably few pianists in the world who know as much about the possibilities of ideal (and at the same variable) fingering. (“Fingering” is the intuitive or conscious decision with which of your ten fingers to press a specific key.) It is a real art. Making the correct decision will enable the pianist to give a smooth performance, will reduce the stress in their hands to a minimum, and – above all – will make the music more expressive.

Andreas’s talents in this field were recognised above all by the publishers G. Henle and he is literally bombarded with requests to provide fingering for new editions for the benefit of pianist who read the scores. By now Andreas has acquired great experience and can skilfully and elegantly untangle even the most complicated passages, or at least make them easier. He often does this work in the evening or at night – much to Yaara’s sorrow, because she would have preferred to enjoy his company …


Claude Debussy
Works for two Pianos
Fingering by Andreas Groethuysen