IN SERACH OF…… (Music of Memories)
Third Production of the Piano Duo Ensari & Schuch
Herbert Schuch and Gülru Ensari look back on musical memories of their childhood(s).
Although they each spent their childhood in thoroughly different circumstances, Herbert Schuch and Gülru Ensari feel somehow connected through memories of their first musical moments. Herbert grew up until the age of nine in the Romanian countryside near the Hungarian border, during the bleak last years of communism.
Born in Istanbul, Gülru grew up as a city dweller. “We both had a record player at home”, she remarks, to show what they had in common. Now, as a married couple and piano duo, they have found time and leisure during the pandemic to look back on the past. Overjoyed by the birth of their daughter, they shared memories of certain moments from their own childhood that seem to stand still in time.
For this album, “In search of...”, they looked for music they associate with those moments. In so doing, they were also searching for their own identity.
Herbert belongs to the minority of the Banat Swabians: “Although there was no direct Hungarian lineage in my family, the language and culture of Hungary played a significant role in our lives. Conversely, although we were in Romania, we practically had no points of contact with Romanian culture”, he remembers. “The pieces we played at home back then would have seemed out of place on this album; in my parents’ home, we exclusively played the Hungarian operetta tunes that were en vogue. My uncle sang, and he was accompanied at the piano by my father, who had brought back LPs from the GDR.”
On the other hand, in Istanbul, Gülru was strongly influenced by Western culture. At home, she only heard Classical music: Brahms, Dvořák, Tchaikovsky – the composers now featured on this CD. “I grew up with VHS videotapes. I watched Disney’s Sleeping Beauty and Fantasia countless times, with the original music from Tchaikovsky’s ballets”, she remembers. In search for similar memories from childhood, Tchaikovsky was the first common denominator the couple found that they shared. “We both remember having listened to the Nutcracker Suite when we were children”, Herbert remarks.
PERSONAL NARRATIVE BY GÜLRU ENSARi & HERBERT SCHUCH
The story of our piano duo began in a rather unusual way. As opposed to the great number of existing
duos of siblings or of couples who got to know one another during their studies, we started to form
a husband-and-wife team when we already had individual careers as solo artists to look back on,
and it was only after we started living together that we discovered the marvels of playing four-hand
Approaching it like a game, without instruction from outside, we were astounded to
discover that there is an immense, rich repertoire for two pianists. Our baptism of fire took place at
our first public concert at the Antalya Festival in 2014, with Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du printemps and
our own selection of waltzes by Brahms and Hindemith.
Further appearances soon followed, along with our first CD recording: our intention was to approach
our two origins within a musical framework. Go East! is thus a concept album where we combined the
melodies and rhythms of an “East” that was conceived as broadly as possible. Recitals at the Bad
Kissingen Summer Festival, at the Berlin Konzerthaus, at BOZAR in Brussels, and at the Lockenhaus
Chamber Music Festival were some of the first highlights of our performing career as a duo, and we
had the pleasure of collaborating with such orchestras as the WDR Symphony Orchestra (Cologne),
the Folkwang Chamber Orchestra (Essen), and the Wiesbaden State Orchestra. Sharing the stage
with the WDR Radio Choir is also a thoroughly enriching experience.
Our second CD, Dialogues,
once again focused on the subject of origins, and on finding a living connection with our musical
past. Having lived by then for over ten years in Cologne, we placed an iconic work by a well-known
20th-century composer from that city in the center of our programme: Bernd Alois Zimmermann’s
Monologe. All the while, we continued to progress on our journey towards the east.
Combining thoroughly different works on our recordings is not the only goal for a German-Turkish
couple such as ours, with Iranian, Arabian, and Romanian roots: it also opens the door for what we conceive
as fulfilled music-making together. When we are not giving concerts, we spend our free time with
our newborn daughter Kayra in Cologne, in the foothills of the Alps in Upper Bavaria, and in Istanbul.