Critical Acclaim for “Prokofiev For Two”

Sergei Babayan


"Prokofiev's symphonic battleships on two pianos – could 176 keys cope with them? Absolutely, if they are played by Martha Argerich and Sergei Babayan. The two not only bring out the rhythmic quality of this music, but also let previously unseen colors shine. An addictive album."
Peter Korfmacher, Märkische Allgemeine, April 23, 2018

"A truly diabolical duo is being offered by Martha Argerich and Sergei Babayan on 'Prokofiev for Two' (DG): They rip through the transcriptions for two pianos from 'Romeo and Juliet', 'Hamlet', 'Eugen Onegin' or War and Peace'. The virtuoso transcriptions have been created by Babayan himself and were dedicated to his piano partner of many years, Martha Argerich. A dazzling album, all of a piece."
Miriam Damev, Falter 15/2018 of April 13, 2018

"This drama will not have a happy end – Sergei Babayan makes this clear with the very first bars of his own transcriptions of Prokofiev's 'Romeo and Juliet'. (...) But in the very moment in which one might think this recording exaggerates the dark and harsh side of Prokofiev's work, it suddenly changes in tone, when the two caress the keys tenderly in the Dance of the Ladies. In this instance, if not earlier, one will have forgotten that this music is actually designed to be performed by the large instrumentation of a full orchestra, because Sergei Babayan has transferred the colors onto two pianos with great intelligence – and because the two of them form a perfect team that draws up in complete sync the scenes and characters in vivid fashion. (...) The concluding piece returns to the harsh sound of the beginning of this CD and demonstrates once again the impressive precision and virtuosity of the two pianists."
Markus Stäbler, NDR Radio April 4, 2018

“Young Juliet for example is presented with dizzying virtuosity, its sparkling runs take off like little rockets. With stunning ease, the two peers play games with all technical challenges and enthrall the listener by a wealth of ideas, charm and devilment. This ‘Prokofiev for Two’ has all the chances to become a Prokofiev for all.”
Aurélie Moreau, Classica – France

“This album call for superlatives. The duo Argerich/Babayan draws us into a maelstrom of emotions: Their quasi-symphonic playing is at times daemonic and sarcastic, at times lyrical, almost carefree. The transcriptions made by Sergei Babayan are brilliantly intelligent, free and loyal to their original at the same time. The touch of genius that this duo demonstrates finds its climax in the Death of Tybalt that leaves the listener in consternation.”
Pianiste, May 2018 – France

“The two pianists merge to unsurpassable unity at the two pianos. The duo Argerich-Babayan is a blessing in terms of artistic agreement and complementarity.”
Alexander Dick, Badische Zeitung, April 14, 2018 – Germany

“After his studies with Mikhail Pletnev (a formerly amazing piano virtuoso whose career is incredibly close to flying off the rails) he went to the US, where he took US citizenship. As the American pianistic world is still very much separated from the European one, his career there was barely noticed here. Valery Gergiev, with two Prokofiev concerts two years ago, was the one who lobbied for him in Europe. Sergei Babayan is now 57 years old. (…) The performance of this duo is so symbiotic that one can barely distinguish who is who (a phenom that has appeared before in music history: To this day, one is not entirely certain who in the legendary Schubert recording session with Benjamin Britten and Sviatoslav Richter played which part). Here we seem to meet Siamese twins, separated only for a very brief moment. Time and again, one listens with amazement to the infinite wealth of details, the sparkling element of the playing, the deadly drive of the musical progression. There is no lyrical sweetness or dancing elegance left in this; instead, Argerich & Babayan manage to make the top register of the piano sing. This is great art. This new Argerichiade, six years after her last Lugano release, is nothing short of a small sensation. Way better also than her temporary duo with Barenboim. A charming reparation for the almost unknown pianistic peer Sergei Babayan. And at last, a CD that does not fritter way a wild mix of repertoire, as Argerich has often done in her recordings.”
Robert Fraunholzer, Rondo 2/2018 – Feature CD – Germany

“The pianism of these two great personalities of the concert world is basically flawless. One must admire, not only the beauty of the transcriptions but also the extraordinary partnership between two perfectly harmonious artists.”
ClassicVoice – Italy

“Here now is another, most beautiful chamber music example for two pianos thanks to Sergei Babayan’s Prokofiev transcriptions.”
Brescia Oggi, May 1st, 2018

“One might say; What is the need for transcriptions of a composer who was written nine sonatas, five concertos and so many pieces for the piano? The answer depends entirely on who transcribes, because when the playing duo are Martha Argerich and Sergei Babayan, then as the saying goes, ‘watch out for these two’ (NB: the Italian title to British TV series The Persuaders!). Babayan’s transcription captures all the sound world of Prokofiev, the phonic intensity, the sarcastic irony, the motoric futurism, the brutal noisiness, and the incredible melodic inventiveness. The pieces remind us of how Prokofiev’s music was born from a genius mind of a super-brilliant pianist with arms of steel and a sharp language.”
Il Giornale – Italy

“Tightrope walk interpretation by Babayan and Argerich. But also delicate, caring for various colors, versatile, evidently played by both of them to their great entertainment.”
La Repubblica, May 6, 2018 – Italy

"...if your expectation is that this will be pretty special, you are right. This recording is the culmination of a series of live performances Babayan and Argerich have given over the last few years, starting at the Lugano Festival in 2013, and the sense of a rock-solid musical partnership is palpable...The emotional climax is, not surprisingly, the lovers' farewell, which, in this performance, is intensely moving but also icily brilliant, particularly in the final pages."
Limelight, July 2018 – Australia