Since moving to Australia in 1995, Russian born Igor Machlak and Olga Kharitonova have continued to develop their careers as performers and teachers, specializing in piano duets and repertoire for two pianos. They have made recent appearances with the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra and at the 2010 Adelaide Festival. The duo's busy performance schedule has taken them to China and Southern Eastern Asia as well as return trips to Russia. Currently they lecture at the University of Melbourne's Faculty of Music.
"Take Maurice Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite and Rite of Spring by Igor Stravinsky. Composed in almost the same year, there is no doubt as to who is ‘The Beauty’ and who is ‘The Beast’. The evocative and quintessential Ravelian set of five pieces, based on Charles Perrault’s fairy tales, transcend you to a beautiful and comforting heaven. Even the Beast in it is quite adorable! The Russian genius Stravinsky, on the other hand, wanted to “send them all to hell”. He conveyed the brutality and sheer madness of hell by using dissonance for its own sake. The “Rite of Spring” caused a riot at its Paris premiere in 1913, and announced a new era in music and art.
Composed effortlessly and, no doubt, ‘on the go’, the Schubert Waltzes always managed to fascinate the next generations of composers, such as Liszt and Prokofiev. They even tried to re-arrange the waltzes, looking for a greater effect, but in their original state their simplicity and purity are most enjoyable. These pieces compete perfectly for the ‘Beauty’ title.
It was while touring with Hungarian violinist Eduard Remenyi that Brahms heard many original Hungarian and Gypsy folk tunes. He most probably felt like he had stumbled across a golden nugget. The result, in 1869, was a collection of dances for piano four hands which brought Brahms huge success and tons of money! All but one of the dances borrowed material and their passionate and free-spirited nature is a startling contrast to the fragility and intimacy of Schubert’s waltzes." - Igor Machlak