works here still have few recordings for comparison, and the ones I
know of are of no competition to these.”
“The results here are spectacular.”
“...the Contiguglia brothers give a
“You owe it to yourself to seek out
this recording – performances of this caliber are quite rare.”
- American Record Guide, July/August 2012
a front row balcony seat, the Sonata was a feast for the eyes
and ears and a constantly evolving puzzle for the mind!
Balance between the pianists and percussionists was excellent
and the co-ordination was very precise. The execution of the
complex contrapuntal layering of the first movement was
breathtaking. The eerie night music of the second movement was
perfectly spun out. The high jinks of the finale brought the
unusually large audience to its feet in prolonged applause for
a wonderful performance of a too seldom heard masterpiece. May
the Contigulia Brothers return to Elon soon with, maybe,
another memorable Schubertaid or an evening of Mozart."
- CVNC, North Carolina, October 25, 2011
"Lunchtime saw an
extraordinary performance by the Contiguglia Twins from
New York, who played the socks off Howard Ferguson,
Schubert and Beethoven. They came to Britain to study with
Hess as young boys and played the Schubert Variations on
an Original Theme for their Wigmore Hall debut. And...
I've heard of identical, but this was quite something. I'm
reliably informed that you can tell them apart when you
know them well."
- Jessica Duchen's
Classical Music Blog, November 26, 2008
enjoy transcriptions as much or more than most, and this is a great
one, of the greatest piece, with a masterly performance, excellent
recorded sound, and perceptive notes."
- American Record Guide, January/February 2008
piano duo of the identical Contiguglia twins is one of the most
famous exemplars of this branch of the piano field. They have shown
their superb discipline and fine musicianship here in years past as
guest artists with Hobson's Sinfonia da Camera. On Monday night,
they aroused to a high level of enthusiasm the members of a
moderate-sized audience in Smith Music Hall."
- The News-Gazette, Champaign/Urbana, IL, June 2007
it came to Mozart's concerto, the Contiguglias' four hands
seemed to be playing with one mind and heart. The Allegro
movement was rich in thematic development, flowing back and
forth without repeating, but constantly moving along with a
natural progression. Exchanging phrases smoothly in this
brilliant dialogue, the twins' cooperative effort was a model
of a well-functioning family. The final movement included
cadenzas and ritards performed with amazing synchronicity. The
twins knew each other's parts as their own. My apologies go to
the RSO, as my attention was completely captured by the
- News Times, Danbury, CT, December 2006
playing was as astonishing as the music itself"
"And the best
artists – in which august group the Contiguglias belong – find
new meaning in every repeat performance. So there was nothing
routine about this concert"
things I'd never noticed before, due to the great precision
and clarity of the performance. 'Twas Art with a capital "A,"
- Classical Voice of North Carolina, October 2005
"Such are the
delights on the Contiguglia brothers' new disc that the tracks
almost demand repeated hearings immediately. The pairing of
Gershwin and Grainger is brilliant and natural..."
performances here are crisp, seamless and expertly balanced,
with plenty of heart"
Gramophone, March 2005 Read
articulated musical lines with extraordinary clarity, and
their great care with phrasing was a masterclass in musicianship and style."
- Classical Voice of North Carolina, April 2003
sometimes conjure up the sounds of a Balinese gamelan
orchestra, with shimmering bell-like sounds "
- Classical Voice of North Carolina, October 2002
"A chance that
should not be missed"
performance that both exhibited the eclecticism of 20th
century music and painted a picture of the composer's life and
"It brought a
standing ovation from the audience and an unusual mid-concert
Burlington, N.C., Times-News, October 12, 2002
Read full article
News & Record,
October 12, 2002
The piano duo, Richard and John Contiguglia, joined the GSO
for a performance of Poulenc's "Concerto for Two Pianos." This is a
sparkling work, with lots of great spirit and energy, and the duo
worked together like, well, brothers. The rapport between the two
was terrific, and the overall effect was one of effervescence.
The two pianists
returned to the stage to offer an encore, Percy Grainger's "English
Waltz," a composition given to the duo when they were thirteen. The
encore confirmed what was already obvious - both are gifted pianists
with a great sense of ensemble who love to play.
of a kind
- Ventura County Reporter,
October 31, 2002
Other than the great
musicianship, the striking thing about the Contiguglia Brothers'
piano concert last Sunday at Ventura's Sierra Center was the
appearance of the crowd itself. Silk and sass melded peculiarly
indeed--sartorials were as disparate as the patrons' ages;
children's snappy fall garb clashed with middle-agers' grubby
tennies and jeans.
There's a message here,
and it's not in the brothers' unlikely roots, although there are
plenty of those to go around.
Identical twins Richard
and John Contiguglia, internationally acclaimed duo of 40 years'
standing, graduated Yale in the top 1 percent of their baccalaureate
class and with master's degrees in music at the top of the heap.
A set of Schumann's
reflective etudes, a bout with Mozart's happy, busy, Sonata in D
Major, a wild ride through Percy Grainger's disparate fantasy on
George Gershwin's Porgy & Bess--the brothers' parallel
universe converged splendidly within our own. These men are
superb ambassadors of dual performance, each coloring the other's
technique with hair-trigger shading and deftness of comprehension.
This fare was presented
by the New West Symphony, a consummate populist among classical
entities. On Sunday, the crowd responded accordingly, observing a
dress code that's appropriately (and thankfully) lax.
They gave forth with some of the most ravishing pianism ever heard
hereabouts on any number of keyboards. -The Washington
most profoundly musical pair of piano virtuosi of this century, with
brains and taste as well as fingers. -Audio Magazine
Here was the
art of duo-pianism at a summit all too rarely attained.
-The Dallas Morning News
given the two-piano medium a whole new dimension. The Contiguglias
stand apart in a lofty world of their own, unrivaled and supreme.
-Records and Recording, London
Contiguglia Created Tour-de-force with Bartók Premiere
-Het Parool, Amsterdam, Holland
soloists, Richard and John Contiguglia, made an indelible impression
with their duo-piano artistry in Poulenc’s infectiously playful
Concerto. -Denver Post
Liszt duet worth 152-year wait
Thanks to an incredible series of coincidences, the world has had to
wait 152 years to hear the only work Franz Liszt wrote for two
pianos. But judging by the terrific sendoff given Liszt’s Grosses
Konzertstück in its American premiere Sunday afternoon in
Orchestra Hall, this marvelous piece seems destined for a far better
fate during the next 1˝ centuries. The performance by the
Contiguglias was more than equal to the score’s technical demands,
but it was also sensitive to its lyrical essence. This was a dynamic
performance of a first-rate work. -Howard Reich, Chicago
The program was pure joy from its first gorgeous tone to its
last. Quite simply, this concert was tonally ravishing. Their hands
devoured the Saint-Saens Variations, Op. 35, with such relish
that cheers burst spontaneously from the audience throughout the
auditorium. -San Antonio Express-News
Identical twins, Richard and John Contiguglia, emphasized the
lyricism in Max Bruch’s expertly crafted, bountifully melodic
Concerto for Two Pianos. -The New York Post
The Contiguglia brothers are really first-rate pianists and
interpreters, and they bring a particularly poetic style to the epic
music (Beethoven-Liszt 9th Symphony) that makes it
sound poignantly humane. -The New York Times
marathon puts Beethoven in romantic light
(Beethoven/Liszt 9th Symphony)
No doubt the early-music purists, if there were any in
the hall, were gnashing their teeth as duo-pianists, Richard and
John Contiguglia, whipped up unabashedly romantic masses of sound at
their facing keyboards. Octaves, arpeggios, block chords, mercurial
scales – Liszt used virtually everything in his sizable arsenal at
various junctures of this piece.
The result is not so much a transcription of a
Beethoven symphony as a massive inflation of one. Yet it’s just the
sort of novelty that piano buffs adore, witness the instantaneous
ovations it received when the Contiguglias completed it.
From a strictly pianistic point of view, the
Contiguglias were extraordinary. There was weight and sonic depth to
their performance, but not at the cost of clarity or precision. Even
in the most grandiose passages of the finale, the Contiguglias never
failed to express harmonic and melodic underpinnings.
The hourlong piece must seem like a marathon for
performers, who are asked to leap from one technical hurdle to the
next with hardly a moment’s respite. You would never know it,
though, from the Contiguglias’ performance; their final passages
sang out as vividly as their first.
For listeners, the joy of this piece extends beyond the
pianistic fireworks (which are certainly entertaining in
themselves). Rather, it offers a chance to watch Liszt at work – to
observe precisely what he does with another composer’s masterwork.
-Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune
Beethoven No. 9 caused a sensation in Japan. They are very
different from all other duo-pianists I have heard. They bring the
duo-piano art out of the salon and into today’s large concert halls
with their dynamic, articulated and detailed playing.
-Stereo Gaijutsu, Tokyo
piano twice as beautiful
-Robert Marsh, Chicago Sun-Times
The virtuosity of
the Contiguglias was truly awesome, exceeded in fact only by their
penetration into the depth of the music itself.
twins here sound like Ashkenazy multiplied by two, and this is the
most amazing record of two-piano music that I can remember. (Liszt –
Richard and John
Contiguglia treated the elegant Mozart Double Concerto with
identical mastery – vibrant, songful and crystalline playing.
For the music
lovers in the hall there was something privileged about being able
to leave the concert with the highest attainable musical happiness
on earth. (Mozart – Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra, K.365)
Vaterland, The Hague
gave it (Victor Babin’s Concerto with the Cleveland
Orchestra) a brilliant and at the same time sensitive reading that
gave evidence of the accuracy of the lavish credits that preceded
proved that Rachmaninoff on two pianos can be as exciting as on one,
provided these remarkable brothers are doing the playing. They are a
superb team; it was wonderful to hear them again.
…each has been
gifted with prodigious musical ability and their duo-pianism is
truly outstanding. Rarely has music for this medium been played with
such empathy and intensity.
-The Miami News
Bartók With Noordelijk Filharmonisch Orkest
The Concerto, of course, largely because of the piano-duo, Richard
and John Contiguglia, was a breath-taking event. -Nieuwsblad
van het Noorden, Groningen, Holland
brothers, Richard and John Contiguglia, gave us an interpretation (Bartók’s
Concerto for Two Pianos, Percussion and Orchestra) that
commanded mesmerized listening by its amazing rhythmic subtlety,
dynamic depth and keen expression. All the elements of this
fascinating work came out perfectly: i.e. the ‘white-knuckled’
tension of this complex score, characterized above all by the
gouging, hammering rhythmic structure. -Eindhovens Dagblad,
with Concerto on ‘Porgy and Bess’ Themes
The Seattle premiere was a smashing success, acclaimed by a packed
Seattle Center Opera House crowd. If conductors and managers are
alert, the Contiguglias could easily spend the rest of their lives
playing the new concerto, relieving audiences of endless
performances of Gershwin’s greatest hit, Rhapsody in Blue.
The Contiguglias play the great Gershwin tunes with seductive
phrasing and exuberant all-American vitality.
Newhouse News Service
THE YEAR 2000, BEST IN SHOW
News-Press, December 29, 2000
by Greg Hettmansberger
For local concertgoers, the year 2000 was vintage. In looking back
on my freshest musical memories, I realized that all of my choices
represented two things: music played nearly as well as can be
imagined, and interpretations so persuasive as to transcend
momentary critical quibbles.
The twin duo-pianists Richard and John Contiguglia demonstrated that
a large body of great music still lies largely neglected. Their
achievement also showed why: Not many pianists of their caliber will
devote the hours necessary to mastering the repertoire for two
pianos. In music of Debussy and Mozart, they were captivating in
their ability to communicate at opposite ends of the concert grands;
in Grainger's stylish arrangement of music from "Porgy and Bess,"
the brothers were inerrant in capturing the brio and lyricism of
CONTIGUGLIAS: TWIN PIANISTS
PLAYING AS ONE
News-Press, Tuesday, May 2, 2000
by Greg Hettmansberger
Richard and John Contiguglia did not become duo pianists because
they are identical twins. During individual post-graduate studies
with the legendary Dame Myra Hess, she encouraged them to devote
themselves to what is possibly the most misunderstood - and
certainly underappreciated - genre of all great music.
The Contiguglias have spent nearly four decades trying
to change that. Friday night at the Lobero Theatre, they offered
overwhelming evidence for both their passion and their extraordinary
talents. While there was the inescapable novelty of the concert, the
very first work proved so startling that one failed to focus at
first on the varied aspects of dualism.
Debussy's "En Blanc et Noir" was his deeply personal
response to being unable to physically fight in World War I. The
three movements contain little, if any, of the familiarly gauzy
harmonic blurs of his impressionist style. The brothers made
the esthetic battle evident without overstating the case.
Debussy had an encore of sorts, as arranger of
Schumann's "Etudes in Canon Form for the Pedal Piano." The named
instrument had a brief vogue at mid-19th century and quickly went
extinct, but we may be glad that Schumann was inspired to write this
music and Debussy so delicately arranged it. The canons are far less
obvious and academic than one might assume and the first of the
three (Nos. 2-4 of the set were performed) sounded nothing like
Schumann or Debussy.
By this time it was already clear that the Contiguglias
are as much about what they play as how they play it. The rest of
the program read: Mozart, Schubert and Gershwin/Grainger. To survey
names this familiar while discovering great music so little known
was a major treat in itself.
Perhaps no other work would so test the pianists as
Mozart's Sonata in D, K.448. Surely no other instruments can be so
difficult to play simultaneously as grand pianos; the players are
nearly 18 feet apart, making visual cues of the other's hands
impossible. But the Contiguglias truly played as one, matching not
just obvious rhythmic articulations, but the subtlest inflected
gestures. By the finale, it was impossible not to take their
precision for granted.
The "Fantasy in f minor" D. 940 of Schubert, gave more
than ample evidence of their expressive powers. The only work of the
evening played four-hands at one piano, it is yet another miracle of
the last of the composer's 31 years. The Contiguglias wrung every
ounce out of the poignant return of the haunting opening theme
without crossing the line into maudlin heart-tugging.
Percy Grainger's arrangement of music from
is a specialty of
the brothers and a perfect closer. Again at two keyboards, the
miracle here was the sheer vocalism of "Summertime," as well as
John's special effects of glissandi and the pair's inerrant and
natural sense of style.
The audience, which half-filled the Lobero, was a fine
one and their response earned yet another substantial and specially
selected encore: the andante religioso from Liszt's "Festival
Cantata." As Richard explained, it is essentially a transcription of
the slow movement of Beethoven's "Archduke" Trio; Liszt's work was
an homage to an 1845 monument erected in Beethoven's home-town of
Bonn. Which reminds me - the guys also wrote their own exceptional