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Cann Piano Duo  

Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015  7:30 pm

Harris Concert Hall, University of Memphis

Michelle and Kimberly Cann, the Cann Sisters Piano Duo, are highly successful young pianists acclaimed for the verve and excitement of their two-piano performances. They are graduates of the Cleveland Institute of Music, the Eastman School of Music, and the Curtis Institute of Music


Sonata No. 4 in E Minor   J.S. Bach, arranged by Victor Babin

Andante and Variations for Two Pianos, Op. 46     Robert Schumann

Variations on a Theme of Paganini             Witold Llutoslawski

Suite for Two Pianos, Op. 17                     Sergei Rachmaninoff

Three Hungarian Dances                                  Johannes Brahms

La valse                                                                        Maurice Ravel

Concerts International 2014-2015 Season

Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014        Kavafian-Schub-Shifrin Trio

Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014          Philharmonia Quartett Berlin (Berlin Philharmonic Quartet)

Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015      Cann Sisters Piano Duo

Tuesday, Mar. 17, 2015         East Coast Chamber Orchestra

Wednesday, Apr. 8, 2015      Dover Quartet with Victor Asuncion, piano



3775 Central Avenue, Memphis, TN 38111

Harris Concert Hall – University of Memphis

Parking Information

Free parking in the University of Memphis parking lot on the north side of Central Avenue.

Click here for parking map.    Wheelchair accessible.

Program Notes

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), arranged by Victor Babin
This sonata is one in a set of six completed by Bach in or about 1727 and intended for the instruction and practice of his two eldest sons, Carl Phillip Emanuel and Wilhelm Friedemann. The original manuscripts explicitly designate that it was to be performed on a clavicembalo, an instrument no longer available. Victor Babin arranged the sonata for two pianos, as he says, “in the hope that it will approximate the original medium and make this work available to a larger group of music lovers.” Born in Moscow in 1908, Babin and his wife formed a famous two piano team and made their American debut in 1937 in New York City.

Robert Schumann (1810-1856)
This infrequently played piece was premiered in 1843 by Clara Schumann and Felix Mendelssohn. Originally written for two pianos, two horns and two cellos, Mendelssohn suggested that Schumann rework the score for two pianos. Schumann dedicated himself to overcoming the confining principles of 18th century classicism and helped evolve the concepts and techniques of 19th century romanticism. A dreamer and idealist, Schumann instilled passion in his music to a degree seldom surpassed in the 19th century.

Witold Lutosławski (1913-1994)
Witold Lutoslawski began his career as a composer shortly before the Second World War. Because the Germans, occupiers of Poland, banned public concerts, Polish cultural life went underground.  Serious music-making could only be heard in cafes, so Lutoslawski and his friend Panufnik played piano duets in a Warsaw Café.  The duo wrote and played over two hundred arrangements from Bach organ works to Debussy and Ravel piano compositions.  This well-known “Caprice,” which has served several other composers, including Brahms and Rachmaninov, is the last of a set which Paganini completed by 1817 and included eleven variations and a finale. Lutoslawski follows this scheme closely in his two-piano version but has added a harmonic dimension that embraces chromatically spiced tonality.  In 1977, the composer revived this composition as a Concerto for Piano and Orchestra at the request of pianist Felicja Blumental who gave the first performance two years later in Miami with the Florida Philharmonic Orchestra. (Source: © Felix Aprahamian, 1982)

Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943)
This work is assertive, bold and confident right from the start. After the robust opening, we hear a sparkling waltz characterized by the composer’s big tunes, ripely romantic melodies pounded out in chords over a flowing accompaniment. The beautiful third movement, Romance, is full of lyricism and fantasy. Rachmaninoff closes the suite with a tarantella crafting a finale that demands staggering virtuosity from both players.

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
“Brahms takes full advantage of the rhythmic freedom, the opportunities for cross-rhythms and rubato, the popular melodic style and exotically inflected cadences that the idiom offered.” (Malcolm MacDonald)   Brahms Hungarian Dances were originally published as piano duets between 1869 and 1880. Clara Schumann performed several of these pieces as solos during the 1860s. In 1868 she and Brahms played the first complete performance of the first ten Hungarian Dances as duets. The Hungarian Dances proved immensely popular and commercially successful. Brahms went on to orchestrate three of them in 1873.

Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)
“Whirling clouds give glimpses, through rifts, of couples dancing. The clouds scatter little by little. One sees an immense hall peopled with a twirling crowd. The scene is gradually illuminated. The light of the chandeliers burst forth, fortissimo, in an imperial court in or about 1855.” The descriptive notes are found in the preface to the score. This version was written in early 1920. Ravel’s love for the Viennese waltz is evident as he referred to it as a Grand Valse, an homage to the Great Strauss—Johann.

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Concerts International brings the world’s best chamber music to Memphis. This long-running chamber music series is an important part of the richly varied music scene in Memphis, from the Blues, Elvis and Graceland, Sun Studio, Beale Street, Stax Records Museum and Academy, the Memphis Rock and Soul Museum, and the Gibson Guitar Factory and Museum to Opera Memphis, the Memphis Symphony, and more.

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