First four-hand recording at Henry Wood Hall, London


I decided to start this week, as on Friday 1st of March I have the first recording piano four-hands with my husband Ivo Varbanov. It is all very exciting, as we will work again with Tony Faulkner as sound engineer, who is not only the best (of course!), but also a very nice person, so the recording day will be very pleasant, although packed with work. Yet we’ll have to find the time for another special visit: David Harrison, who will do some pics of the ‘artists’ at work with Tony.

What will we record? Of course, of course, Mr Johannes Brahms. We played the second volume of the Liebeslieder Walzer at Kings Place last December (‘Brahms Unwrapped’!), and both of the cahiers on our tour in Bulgaria last October, so it is now time for a recording. Brahms is ‘Ivo’s composer’; mine is Schumann. To be truthful, I have had my predilection for longer than him 😉 : I played my first Schumann pieces at 10, and decided I wanted to play more and more in my teens! I have here in my London house a little monograph by Andr? Bouchourechliev that has followed me all the way from Italy, and from that time. One lifetime ago.

Wish me luck for Friday! We’ll play on the wonderful Steingraeber that Ivo got from the factory, especially for concerts and recordings this season. For the full story of the Steingraeber…wait after Friday! I will write more about it.

What a great day: the recording session went really well, despite little accidents – we started much later than expected, as I had to bring Jacopo to the nursery at 9am. But as soon as we started playing, the music soared, and I was back in Brahms’s Vienna. Yet the harmony of his Waltzes is so rich that they go so much beyond occasional dance music. I know that Brahms despised this part of his output a little – even the great Hungarian Dances have no Opus number for that reason! – but he digs deeper than he intended (as usual), and so even the little sentimental poems he sings about become states of the soul.

David Harrison came, and I did something really stupid: I moved the piano in search of a nicer shooting angle. Now THIS is something one does not do on a recording set (I learned!), as even a few centimetres can change the sound image a lot. So there was a panic moment, but then we found the right spot back again… And then David stayed to shoot even when we played – or better, in between takes. Now I really look forward to see each other ‘in action’ in his pics. I think we can expect amazing stuff, considering David’s skills.

Both Ivo and I were pretty exhausted at the end of the nine hours of recording, because to record chamber music implies a much greater concentration effort: one has to think about ‘breathing together’ all the time – though to be honest, to record Liebeslieder with my husband was a bit of a dream for me, and fun, too!

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