Zala and Val Kravos : classical fusion of two talented siblings
Family trios in ensemble music are a rarity, and family duets are not much more frequent. I had a close look at the trio phenomenon recently, focusing on French pianist Denis Pascal and his sons Aurélien (cello) and Alexandre (violin). They produced a CD of Schubert trios that quickly found an admiring public. I asked Denis Pascal how he had kept his sons interested in making music with him. He said, in effect, no problem. The result of hours of practice and several public performances has produced a family-based intimacy. “Our interrelationships are unique,” he said. “It’s a special dialogue, like another language.” An interview with Denis Pascal appears here.
One duo of special interest today is the pairing of brother-and-sister pianists of Slovenian origin, Zala and Val Kravos. Both are veterans of solo performances and joint four-hand playing internationally. Their new CD offers a combination of old four-hand favorites of Mozart and Schubert and the rarely heard 12-part Bizet “Jeux d’enfants” Op. 12 (Children’s Games). The program ends with a powerful performance of Poème, Op. 265, of Françoise Choveaux. Mme. Choveaux composed this piece specifically for the two young Slovenians.
The musicality and the technical perfection achieved by this team sets it apart from others in the same category. Four-hand piano is all about seamless synchronization and the merger of minds. It is not always easy.
In the CD booklet, the two Kravos siblings let their past experiences out. They have played together since childhood but as the potential of their pairing became clear, a recital program emerged and they decided to create a CD capturing the moment. The music they make today is the fruition of “many, sometimes cacaphonous, fraternal battles”, they write. The subsequent reconciliation apparently has made the playing stronger.
Their opening track, the Sonata in D, K 381, was composed by Mozart at the age of 17, coincidentally the same averaged age of Zala and Val when this recordIng was made.
The Schubert Fantasia in F minor, D940, is normally reserved for adult performers as it evokes a lifetime of growth, ending with the “spectre of death”, they write. Some of their audiences wonder how they have penetrated Schubert’s private world at such a young age. Zala is 20 and Val just 18.
The Bizet miniatures presented a generational challenge: applying technical prowess while maintaining their “inner child”, and making sure their openness, spontaneity and enthusiasm stay intact. They wrote that their aim was to provide interpretations that “sparkle with joy but also are dreamy and meditative”. They succeed on all fronts.
The Françoise Choveaux composition offers a stunning array of colors and contrasts as well as peaceful moments of a musical poem. An established French performer and composer, she studied at the Peabody Institute and the Juilliard School in the United States. She discovered the Kravos by chance when all three were attending a recital. The Kravos composition is in stark contrast to other selections on the CD but a welcome climax demonstrating the siblings’ broad musical talents.
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