Sharing an instrument isn't as bad as it sounds

Jul 25, 2014

When you were growing up did you play classical music? Did you have your own instrument? The classical classical duo Zofo - made up of Eva-Maria Zimmermann and Keisuke Nakagoshi - play one piano. At the same time. KBIA's Trevor Harris  recently talked with the duo by phone about the nature of playing one piano with four hands, the process of commissioning new music for their repertoire and their new CD Zoforbit.

The classical duo Zofo is made up of Eva-Maria Zimmermann and Keisuke Nakagoshi. They perform together on one piano. Listen for tracks from their new album Zoforbit: A Space Odyssey on KBIA.
Credit Matthew Washburn

Their name Zofo is shorthand for twenty-finger orchestra. The duo has been performing together since 2009. Along the way they have performed at Carnegie Hall, garnered two Grammy nominations and comissoned eleven works for one piano, four hands. Performing together they coax a surprisingly wide range of sounds from their Steinway.  

The duo's third CD release is Zoforbit: A Space Odyssey on the Sono Luminus label. It features Urmas Sisask's Piano Sonata op. 24 for four hands; Gustav Holst's The Planets, George Crumb's Makrokosmos IV: Cosmic Dances for Amplified Piano, Four Hands; and David Lang's Gravity.

While it works sometimes to arrange existing works for one piano, four hands, the duo Zofo is interested in expanding the repertoire for their performances and recordings. Since there are limited arrangements for one piano, four hands, Zimmerman and Nakagoshi regularly commission works from contemporary composers.

If you are willing to collaborate in a novel way as Zofo's two members do on a shared piano, what about prepared piano? Prepared piano is the process of modifying the instrument to derive unfamiliar sounds when keyboard hammers hit paper or metal instead of strings. Here Zofo's Keisuke Nakagoshi discusses the challenges of manipulating the instrument before someone else's work.

Listen for works from Zofo's new CD Zoforbit: A Space Odyssey on KBIA during classical music heard weekdays between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00p.m.