Kolesnikov/Tsoy: Franz Schubert/Leonid Desyatnikov review – a piano duo of rare intimacy

<span>Pavel Kolesnikov, left, and Samson Tsoy have played as a piano duo since their student days over a decade ago.</span><span>Photograph: Eva Vermandel/interartists.nl</span>
Pavel Kolesnikov, left, and Samson Tsoy have played as a piano duo since their student days over a decade ago.Photograph: Eva Vermandel/interartists.nl

Partners on stage and off, as well as solo artists, Russian-born Pavel Kolesnikov and Kazakhstan-born Samson Tsoy have played as a piano duo since their student days over a decade ago (they are in their mid 30s). In their first joint disc for Harmonia Mundi they have built a programme around two Schubert masterpieces of the genre: the Fantasie in F minor D940 (1828), one of the best known works for four-hand piano, written in the last year of his life; and the Divertissement à la hongroise D818.

Between the two is a world premiere recording: Trompe l’œil by Leonid Desyatnikov (born 1955). Illusion is central to Desyatnikov’s 20-minute work, a delicate, crazed mirroring of Schubert’s Fantasie, the echoes familiar but strange, transfigured, mysterious. When the Schubert itself is heard, the impression of ghostly voices is heightened, speaking alone or together, lyrical and serene at the start, then crackling with passion.

Certain sonic experiments with the piano (a Yamaha CFX Concert Grand), such as placing cards on the strings to elicit a quiet buzzing, set this apart from any similar pairing of these works and add immediacy. These two listen closely, play with rare intimacy and draw us in, demanding we pay the same acute attention.