By gaining comparisons to the fabled piano duos of Ashkenazy-Previn and Argerich-Freire (American Record Guide), the Magalhães-Schumann duo, best known as TwoPianists, has already left an indelible mark on the musical world. Comprised of established musicians Luis Magalhães and Nina Schumann, TwoPianists was formed in 1999 when the pair met as students of maestro Vladimir Viardo at the University of North Texas. Now based in Stellenbosch, TwoPianists has become one of the finest chamber music groups on African soil.
An intimate knowledge of the two-piano repertoire, in combination with sound command of technique and a finely developed sense of ensemble, have allowed TwoPianists to focus on the nuance and detail that has won so much praise from critics. In addition to many performances for a devoted South African following, TwoPianists have also toured extensively throughout the US, Europe, China and Japan, to widespread critical acclaim. The duo has also given masterclasses both in South Africa and abroad, including masterclasses at New York’s Juilliard School. The ensemble’s debut recording, comprising the full works for two pianos by Rachmaninov and released by Universal Music, established their reputation as recording artists. Their second release, consisting of virtuoso showpieces and released on their own label, has further cemented that position by being described as “Mehr kann man wirklich nicht verlangen.” (Deutschland Radio) and “thrilling and flamboyant, tender and passionate, vibrant and dynamic” (MusicWeb International). Their third recording is a nod to their parallel careers as soloists: Bach’s monumental Goldberg Variations, in piano duo format. Their latest release, American Intersections, celebrates the diversity of American music in the 20th century. As soloists, Nina and Luis boast a joint résumé that includes performances at the Shenzhen Concert Hall, Tonhalle Zürich, Cleveland Museum of Art, and the Wigmore Hall, amongst others. They have also performed and recorded with an astonishing array of musicians, including Bryn Terfel, Michelle Breedt, Daniel Rowland, Frank Stadler, Priya Mitchell, Benjamin Schmid, Alissa Margulis, Damarre McGill, Abel Pereira, Claudio Bohórquez, Mirijam Contzen, Gareth Lubbe, Carol Wincenc, Ivan Monighetti, Wolfgang Emanuel Schmidt, Leon Bosch and Jeff Bradetich.
A native of Portugal, Luis received his first formal piano tuition at the age of five. His prodigious talent at the keyboard was fostered by a line of eminent teachers, including Vladimir Viardo. He has also received high-profile masterclass tuition from musicians as distinguished as Paul Badura-Skoda and Alicia de Larrocha, in addition to collecting a wide array of competition prizes and awards. The quality of Luis’s contribution to the piano-duo idiom is rendered all the more impressive when one considers that recital works, concertos, and a wide range of chamber music fall within his active repertoire. Nina was born and raised in picturesque Stellenbosch, where from a young age her musical talent was impossible to ignore. En route to studying with Viardo at the University of North Texas, and having benefited from the guidance of piano pedagogues Lamar Crowson and Vitaly Margulis, Nina scooped up virtually every major South African music prize on offer. It is testament to her skills that she was appointed associate professor in piano at the University of Stellenbosch in 1999, a post that she held while still undergoing tuition at North Texas.
Both Luis and Nina hold piano professorships at the University of Stellenbosch, passing on their artistic knowledge and producing students of the highest calibre. Their services to the South African musical community include the founding of an independent record label, TwoPianists Records. The company serves as a platform not only to promote opportunities for local and international musicians to record, but also to put South African musical life on a global stage. This exciting venture has resulted in numerous music awards at home, and has won praise from international critics and audiences alike. Luis and Nina also founded the Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival in 2004, which has quickly become the best-known chamber music festival on the African continent. Reflecting their prestige in the musical world, the TwoPianists duo assumed the role of Yamaha International Artists in 2014. One might imagine that such an artistically successful partnership would only work if there were an underlying relationship of harmonious and mutual respect. This is indeed the case, as more than music binds TwoPianists: Luis and Nina are husband and wife.
S. Barber: Souvenirs Op. 28
W. Bolcom: Recuerdos
A. Copland: El Salón México
F. Rzewski: Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues
J. Adams: Hallelujah Junction
The repertoire encompasses a range of styles, which these musicians seize by the throat and heart to give richly detailed, dynamic performances.Donald Rosenberg, Gramophone
J. S. Bach: Goldberg Variations, BWV 988, (arranged for two pianos by Rheinberger/Reger)
An enlightening performance that will remain on my listening stack for years to come.James Harrington, American Record Guide
S. Rachmaninoff: Suite nr.1 Op.5, Suite nr.2 Op.17, Prelude in C#minor, Polka Italienne, Russian Rhapsody Op. posth, Symphonic Dances Op.45, Six Morceaux Op.11
…power, virtuosity, sumptuous harmony, a forceful melodiousness on primordial melodic roots.Rafael Sala, PianoNews
J. Brahms: Variations on a theme by Paganini op. 35
W. Lutoslawski: Paganini Variations
A. Arensky: Suite no. 1, op. 15 for two pianos, Suite no. 2, op. 23 ‘Silhouettes’
A. Copland: El Salón México
This is one of the finest piano duo discs.Rob Barnett, MusicWeb International