Making a successful piano duet recording is a challenge. In addition to the performance, there is the issue of the recording process: getting the mix right and capturing both instruments with clarity. This is not an easy thing to do, as the evidence of many poorly recorded piano duets will attest. In addition, there's the task of pacing, which is a considerable challenge with the sound of two pianos. Such duet recordings often have a frenetic dueling pianos feel, which quickly gets old. The good news about Tandem is that it's beautifully recorded, well paced, and displays the inspired performances of two excellent pianists.
Pianists Chris Hopkins and Bernd Lhotzky are not just notable soloists. They also accompany each other with an intuitive sense of nuance and a sophisticated sense of musical taste. They focus on standards from the '20s to the '40s by the likes of Duke Ellington, Willie "The Lion Smith, Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers, Bix Beiderbecke, the Gershwins and other great songwriters of the age. This is traditional jazz, and these two pianists are extremely comfortable in this world.
Arbors Jazz fans will recognize Chris Hopkins as a label regular. Anyone who has heard him on record will not be surprised by the mastery he demonstrates on Tandem. Lhotzky, an apt musical match for Hopkins, has recently released a solo recording on Arbors. Both players were raised in Germany and have a special affinity for stride and swing piano. Both are building considerable international reputations, which Tandem will undoubtedly enhance. Some of the best tracks on this consistently fine recording are breathtakingly graceful and complex stride piano duets. The musical rapport is a delight. If you're a traditional jazz fan, and especially a piano jazz fan, this is a recording not to miss.
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