International Piano Magazine’s Jeremy Nicholas spoke with Tessa Uys and Ben Schoeman about their project to record Scharwenka’s arrangements of Beethoven’s complete symphonies for piano duet in the May 2023 issue of the magazine!
“‘It was the music director of a festival in the City [of London] at St Lawrence Jewry, Graham Allan, who called me in distress approximately two weeks before the opening saying that the man who was coming from Europe to play Liszt’s transcription of Beethoven’s Ninth had pulled out. He asked me if by any chance I had it in my repertoire. I said no. He said do you know anvbody who does? I said no but I do have the back of my mind an idea. She asked him to give her ten minutes while she went to look in her music room. On the shelves was the huge collection of two-piano music that had belonged to her mother. Within minutes she found the score of the Ninth along with volumes containing the other eight symphonies. arranged for piano duet b Xaver Scharwenka.
She rang Allan back and told him she might be able to help with this. Who did she have in mind as her partner? Ben Schoeman. ‘I rang Ben. He immediately said yes. He was on his way to play a recital in Lake Como. he came to London. We had four days to prepare it. We worked day and night at it – in a heat wave! The first time we played it through from cover to cover was the evening of the concert. Since then, we have played all nine Scharwenka arrangements of the symphonies.’”Excerpt from feature from Jeremy Nichols. Full piece in the May 2023 issue – available for purchase from international-piano.com
Review for Volume Three
“These skilled, imaginative arrangements are big-boned affairs, promting one to muse that the domestic duettists of Mahler’s and Zweig’s pre-First World War Vienna or Busoni’s Berlin must have been a generation of precocious facility. Uys and Schoeman handle content and texture impeccably and with empathic understanding. Under their hands (more so than with Duo Trenker-Speidel, on MDG, from 2013), the music grows and climaxes, taut yet with time to reflect and not just in the slow movements. Tempo and pulse are largely well guaged, a firm beat resolving issues often besetting the best conductors. Such is the sweep of texture and dynamics, the ‘colouring’ of canvas, the fierce march of temperament, that for much of the time the presence of an orchestra isn’t missed.”—Ateş Orga, International Piano