Owen, Apekisheva, Segundo, English - classical review

Kings Place, London

Charles Owen and Katya Apekisheva are superb pianists in their own right – his Bach is scintillating, her Schubert has profound authority – and as a duo they make more than the sum of their parts; their Mozart and Brahms series helped put Kings Place on the chamber-music map.

Their new programme - of Rachmaninov, Debussy and Bartok at their most austere - might have been designed to emphasise the fact that the piano is simply a box of hammers, but it also served to show what a remarkable symbiosis they can achieve.

In Debussy’s En blanc et noir their two Steinways were perfectly integrated. Avec emportement came and went like a series of gusts of wind, while the Scherzando had a lovely iridescence. Rachmaninov’s Suite No 2 for two pianos betrayed at every point its cognate beginnings with that composer’s second piano concerto, and if it didn’t reflect that work’s level of inspiration, it was nonetheless dazzlingly played, particularly in the tempestuous Tarantella.

For Bartok’s Sonata for two pianos and percussion they were joined on timpani and woodblocks by Pedro Segundo and George English, and the effect was of four percussionists rather than a blend of two separate instrumental species: four brilliant performances in one.