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Music: Vronsky & Babin

2 minute read

When concertgoers hear a pianist who combines technical finish with sound understanding of a score, they open their eyes. More rarely do they find duo-pianists of such perfection. Last week in Manhattan two topnotch teams of duo-pianists played a day apart. Music lovers were still glowing over the distinguished performance of Ethel Bartlett & Rae Robertson when two debutant Russian pianists sat down at pianos in Town Hall and played with such breathtaking clarity, such subtle and unanimous changes of pace, that New Yorkers cheered again.

Vitya Vronsky & Victors Babin have no secrets. Unlike most duo-pianists they do not say that spiritual accord helps them play together. Duo-pianists may have clashing temperaments and different-shaped hands. If they read musical phrases in the same way, they will play them properly.

Vronsky & Babin play more than properly. Their frighteningly fast passages in Rachmaninoff never sound muddled. Babin’s arrangement of the Polovetzkian Dances from Borodin’s Prince Igor is brilliant and vital.

Vronsky & Babin, like their friends Bartlett & Robertson, are married. Babin is tall, dark, 29. His wife is 28. They met in Germany where they both studied under Artur Schnabel. In 1931 they first went on tour, married two years later in London.

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