Notable prize-winners of the New York International Piano Competition perform works commissioned for the competition on this jewel of an album, which also includes the premiere recording of Walter Piston’s Concerto for Two Pianos, written for Stecher & Horowitz.
Steinway & Sons releases first complete recording of the Stecher & Horowitz commissions
Melvin Stecher and Norman Horowitz, the acclaimed American piano duo known as Stecher & Horowitz since 1951, are equally celebrated in the world of music education. Every two years, the Stecher and Horowitz Foundation, an outgrowth of the Stecher and Horowitz School for the Arts, hosts the New York International Piano Competition in Manhattan, open to pianists ages 16-21 from all over the world. Since 2006, the Foundation has commissioned a new solo piano work for each competition, which every participating pianist is required to perform. These commissions, written by important composers of the 20th and 21st centuries, are presented on this Steinway & Sons album (STNS 30079), some for the first time, in performance by past prize-winners of the New York International Piano Competition.
The commissioned works take inspiration from the sparkling Pacific Ocean (Michael Torke’s Bays of Huatulco) and the mysterious geoglyphs of the Nazcas in ancient Peru (Gabriela Lena Frank’s Nocturno Nazqueño). They draw from the works of Gyorgi Ligeti and Conlon Nancarrow (Avner Dorman’s Three Etudes), the sound worlds of blues and jazz (John Musto’s Improvisation and Fugue), and they take traditional forms in surprising new directions (Michael Brown’s Suite for Piano and Lowell Liebermann’s Two Impromptus). The performers on the recording became intimately familiar with these works as contestants in the New York International Piano Competition; most of them were either first-prize winners or recipients of the prize for best performance of a commissioned work – or both. One special guest performer on the album is Leann Osterkamp, whose recording of the complete solo piano works of Leonard Bernstein was released on the Steinway & Sons label in 2017.
Rounding out the album is the premiere recording of Walter Piston’s Concerto for Two Pianos, originally commissioned for Stecher & Horowitz. The original composition for piano duo and orchestra received its premiere in 1964, but Piston, inspired by Stecher & Horowitz’s brilliant performance, decided to rework the piece for two solo pianos to enable them to perform it more often. The two-piano version is less an arrangement of the original concerto than a complete rethinking of the score; it stands on its own as an important addition to the repertoire for piano duo. This first recording features NYIPC winners Larry Weng and Matthew Graybil.
“The performers are young New York International Piano Competition prize-winners, and to a one they find the music sympathetic. The whole program is enjoyable, accessible, and varied.”
About Stecher & Horowitz
Internationally acknowledged as one of the most distinguished duo-pianists of their generation, Melvin Stecher and Norman Horowitz sparked a major revival of interest in the two-piano concert. In 1951, these two young soloists, still in their teens, merged their individual talents to create a unique performing duo. For almost five decades they afforded audiences the world-over an unforgettable musical experience.
Stecher and Horowitz have won critical acclaim and audience bravos throughout the United States, Canada, Central and South America, Europe, Israel, Japan and Australia. The distinguished American composer Walter Piston dedicated his Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra to the duo-pianists, and they premiered the work in 1964.
In addition to founding and directing The Stecher and Horowitz School of the Arts in 1960, they served as educational consultants to the publishing firm of G. Schirmer. The duo-pianists have written and edited the Stecher and Horowitz Piano Library, a comprehensive and motivating teaching series. The scope of their library ranges from beginning material for the young student to the highly-respected college text, Keyboard Strategies. Stecher and Horowitz are equally renowned for their unique piano clinics, a series of workshops for teachers which they have given throughout North America, Japan, and Australia.
Messrs. Stecher and Horowitz are as passionate about their fourth career, The Stecher and Horowitz Foundation’s New York International Piano Competition, and its programs for young artists. In all these endeavors, the virtuosity and versatility of Stecher and Horowitz have earned them an unrivaled reputation in the music world.
About Steinway & Sons label
The STEINWAY & SONS music label produces exceptional albums of solo piano music across all genres. The label — a division of STEINWAY & SONS, maker of the world’s finest pianos — is a perfect vessel for producing the finest quality recordings by some of the most talented pianists in the world.