Stefan Wolpe’s escape from Nazi Germany was fraught with uncertainty and danger. During the months following Hitler’s rise to power Wolpe went into hiding, while completing one of his most compelling works- the March and Variations (1932-33), a work of Beethovenian power, scored for two pianos. The piece was largely forgotten until Quattro Mani’s revival of it, and their sensational premiere recording on Bridge's Music of Stefan Wolpe, Vol. 8 (BRIDGE 9516). Wolpe’s ballet score, The Man from Midian (1942) a work based on the Old Testament, is centered around the story of Moses, and is the other major work on this disc.
The virtuoso piano duo team, Quattro Mani (Susan Grace & Steven Beck), has worked with many of today’s leading composers, and is devoted to the expansion of the repertoire for duo piano. QM’s new Wolpe disc is the duo’s 14th disc for Bridge Records.This impressive eighth volume in Bridge’s Wolpe edition brings his 1933 March and Variations and 1936 Two Studies on Basic Rows. In between comes his ballet about Moses, The Man from Midian, premiered in 1942. The style here, as in the first item, is a muscular neoclassicism with agitprop leanings, but the Studies epitomise Wolpe’s wonderful reimagining of Schoenberg’s 12-tone technique: a bracing, masterly diptych. — Paul Driver (Sunday Times)
Susan Grace and Steven Beck have earned recognition as soloists and chamber musicians and now come together to form one of the most dynamic piano duos before the concert-going public. Quattro Mani's intense involvement with modern repertoire has led to dedications and collaborations with leading composers, including George Crumb, Paul Lansky, Tod Machover, Poul Ruders, Michael Daugherty and Fred Lerdahl. Their first two recordings, Lounge Lizards and Restructures, were released by Bridge Records to critical acclaim, featuring works by American and European composers. A third recording of Stefan Wolpe two-piano works will be released in April, 2019.
Their first concerto performance of Paul Lansky's Shapeshifters and Fitkin’s Circuit with the Austin Symphony Orchestra had such chemistry that on that occasion, The Austin Chronicle named the Austin Symphony Orchestra with Quattro Mani as one of the Top 10 Classical Treasures of 2013. “On a fine program mixing old and new music, the 21st century works by Fitkin and Lansky struck sparks—the former deliciously mercurial, the latter pleasurably suspenseful.” Other performances include the Alabama Symphony, Colorado College Intermezzo Series and Summer Music Festival, Colorado Symphony Drum Show, as well as Subculture, Bargemusic, National Sawdust and Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall and Steinway Hall, all in NY, La Labortoire Cambridge, and Curtis Institute in Philadelphia. Quattro Mani records for and is managed by Bridge Records.