Double Dream | Mikhail Rudy & Misha AlperinMikhail Rudy & Misha Alperin. Photo - Anne Marie De Haas

Classical musicians casting about for audiences could learn a thing or two from Mikhail Rudy and Misha Alperin. Their two-piano recital, Double Dream, is compelling, accomplished and accessible. Fusing the classical canon with elaborate folk-inspired fantasias and jazz improvisations, Rudy and Alperin draw on their own curiosity, a sense of humour and truly exceptional musicianship.

Bach, Schumann, Debussy and Scriabin, staples of the keyboard repertoire, too often suffer at the hands of performers schooled only in technical excellence, encouraged to regard their music as untouchable. By contrast, Rudy, a renowned classical interpreter, and Alperin, a celebrated jazz specialist, perform in the spirit of 'the time when all musicians were also trained in composition, could improvise, play several instruments and conduct'. Their resultant willingness to get their hands dirty is infinitely satisfying.

Rudy presents the initial material In each segment of Double Dream. Alperin answers, sounding at first like a tentative child trying to copy. Suddenly, though, the music develops. New harmonies emerge; fresh rhythmic cells superimpose themselves fluidly upon the piece the audience thought it knew. The two performers are in continual eye contact as they traverse their jointly created landscapes. The transitions to Alperin's own compositions are seamless. Jazz idioms and the additive rhythms of East European dance are juxtaposed and eventually incorporated, culminating in showy finishes premised on sheer vitality which excite the audience in a manner rarely seen in orthodox classical recitals.

The concert features one astounding solo passage apiece: Alperin's a jazzy spree based on one of the Visions Fugitives of Prokofiev, and Rudy's a breathtaking fantasia on Stravinsky's Petrushka. The source material is an immense but translucent presence: never too derivative or obvious, Rudy and Alperin explore with great finesse and subtlety. When playing together, their charming interactions are projected onto two large screens for the audience to witness. The exceptional Alperin punctuates his intense playing with whimsical gestures and vocalisations, with Rudy looking on benignly or with barely concealed glee. Rudy's dignified and more introspective playing, by contrast, is met with gentle humour, writ large on Alperin's expressive face.

Double Dream is an exhilarating, liberated outing. Rudy writes that 'nowadays, it takes some courage to break the rules'. Music lovers should be happy that these two musicians have that courage.


2009 Sydney Festival
Double Dream
Mikhail Rudy and Misha Alperin

Venue: City Recital Hall Angel Place
Dates: January 26 at 5pm, January 28 at 8pm
Duration: 1hr 20mins
Tickets: $70 - $45
Bookings: City Recital Hall Angel Place 02 8256 2222 | Ticketek 1300 888 412

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