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15 Questions to Anthony and Joseph Paratore

img  Tobias

Hi! How are you? Where are you? What’s on your schedule right now?
We are now on concert tour in the US and will return to Europe this summer for music festivals in Germany and Denmark.

The Klavier-Festival Ruhr is right ahead. What can you tell us about your performance?
When the organizers of the Klavier-Festival Ruhr invited us to participate in this year’s Festival, they requested that we present a program of Transcriptions which is a focus for the 2005 Festival. We were very enthused by this challenge. The fact is that transcriptions have been a part and parcel to the duo piano tradition. Futhermore, we have also enjoyed the special challenge of presenting 4 hand versions of orchestral works. With that in mind we assembled a program consisting of seldom heard arrangements of Richard Strauss Tone poems including Don  Juan and Till Eulenspiegel.

Which of the other performances will you definitely attend?

Unfortunately as much as we would like, our schedule this year does not permit us to stay and attend other concerts.

One of the Festival’s ideas seems to be that the perception of (Classical) music be altered by the use of unusual locations. What’s your point of view on this?
We were fortunate to have been part of the Klavier-Festival Ruhr from its inception. Through these many years we have performed in most of the cities and towns of that area, the so called “Ruhr Gebiet”. The Festival does a fine job in reaching out to the concert public of many of these towns. Each place has its own very unique setting, be it in beautiful castles, churches, museums or normal concert halls. As musicians, we have learned to adjust to the various situations and in the final analysis, the music reigns supreme regardless of where it is presented. In addition, such unusual settings provide a unique atmosphere to the enjoyment of the listeners.

On a more general level: What constitutes a good live performance in your opinion? What’s your approach to performing on stage?

As performers, our goal is simply to bring music to life and to interpret the music of the composer to the best of our ability. We attempt to stay true to the intent of the composer by close study of the scores. However, when the moment arrives, our ultimate zeal is to breath life into the music and communicate our interpretations to the audience. A good live performance for us is when we succeed in the moving the listener with emotion.

What’s the hardest part about being a musician and what’s the best?

Choosing to be a classical musician requires sacrifice, dedication, and daily application to the study of music. One attempts to combine intellect with emotion through music. The best part of being a musician is when it works to our satisfaction! This is what we refer to as a “high”!

What’s your view on the classical music scene at present? Is there a crisis?
Now having been an active piano duo team for 3 decades, we have certainly seen changes of late. It has a lot to do with the way the world has changed especially with the advent of digital technology. The way of life for many things operate fast with clicks of a mouse or a remote control. The pace of life on an everyday basis has quickened over the years. This trend works against the prerequisites of leisure time, patience, and concentration that classical music demands. Our sincere hope is that classical music will survive any crisis that may come and go.

Some feel there is no need to record classical music any more, that it’s all been done before. What do you tell them?
Despite all the past recordings, music is a perpetual evolving language and a source of expression. It reflects emotions of all kind. There seems to always be a reason for a new version by current performers of today. We, as performers, feel  like it is our task to carry the message of the composer to the listener. Interpretation is a finely honed skill. What makes classical music so remarkable and interesting is that it allows every individual artist to interpret the music in their own unique way. 

What does the word “interpretation” mean to you?

The word interpretation itself suggests several factors that must be considered by the performer. It requires a knowledge of style from the various musical periods, a careful study and scrutiny of the score to determine the composer’s intentions, and consideration of many details including phrasing, production of sound, voicing, and for the pianist; various touch types and pedaling. One should listen to a wide variety of a composers output including orchestral, chamber, solo works, etc to successfully interpret. It is the combination of mind and heart. In the end, the final result to interpretation is one’s own ability of expression.

True or false: It is the duty of an artist to put his personal emotions into the music he plays.

In principle this is true. Let us explain. One draws on personal experiences in life to help express emotions in music. Without such personal emotional experiences, one runs the risk of sounding purely technical and academic. Basically one has to feel in order to express the wide spectrum of emotions to a listener.

True or false: “Music is my first love”
Certainly anyone who decides to pursue music as a career feels a great love for music and can not imagine doing anything else in life. It acts as a powerful magnet that draws one to it. For the most part, people who choose any facet of the arts as a career find that it is more of a “calling” regardless of its financial returns.

True or false: People need to be educated about classical music, before they can really appreciate it.

False in the sense that classical music can move a person without specific musical knowledge. It is a powerful force affecting people in various ways and is open to anyone willing to listen. In our career more than once, someone has approached us back stage after our concert and remarked, “I don’t normally listen to classical music, but your music moved me.”  We have always enjoyed causing a spark in people to induce further experience and involvement with classical music. 

You are given the position of artistic director of a concert hall. What would be on your program for this season?
This is difficult to answer in general. There exist many variables which would determine a certain program. It depends on the kind of venue and audience for whom  we are programming whether it be for an orchestra, chamber concert or recital. In any case, we would certainly include some comtemporary music of the day as we feel that it is a duty of a presentor to support important living composers.

Have you ever tried playing a different instrument? If yes, how good were you at it?

Yes, early on we tried the organ, percussion and we had 2 lessons on the violin.  However, in the end the piano spoke to us and we gravitated to it.

Anthony and Joseph Paratore performing in Mülheim


"Johannes Brahms: Liebeslieder Waltzes Op. 52 & 65; Waltzes Op. 39" Koch International
"Mussorgsky / Mendelsson: Pictures at an Exhibition" Koch International
"Points on Jazz (Dave Brubeck)" Koch International
"The Well Tempered Opera" Koch International
"Paratore Play Brahms" Four Winds
"Schoenberg: Chamber Symphony Op. 9" Koch International
"Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue, Concerto in F, Porgy and Bess" Koch International
"Variations for 4 Hands: Schumann, Mendelssohn, Beethoven, Saint-Saens" Koch International
"Igor Stravinsky: Sacre du Printemps, Concerto for 2 Solo Pianos" Koch International
"Gottschalk: Nuits des Tropiques" New World
"Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy: Concertos for 2 Pianos and Orchestra" Koch International
"John Downey: Adagio Lyrical" Gasparo
"Classic Romance" Four Winds 3005
"Classics to Broadway" Koch International
"Classic Romance III" Four Winds
"French Romance" Four Winds

Anthony and Joseph Paratore

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