Press reactions - GrauSchumacher Piano Duo



100 best records of the year, Philippe Manoury: Le temps, mode d'emploi

[…] an exhilarating study in the transformation of sonority.
Dan Cairns



Philippe Manoury: Le temps, mode d'emploi

[W]hat's really impressive is how well the live electronics interact with pianists Andreas Grau and Götz Schumacher. […] Entrancing sounds apart, it's possible to enjoy the music as a demonstration of the pair’s technical skills: rich, deep chords ringing out to thrilling effect and the faster, percussive passages superbly co-ordinated. Listening in a single sitting makes the coda’s soft tinklings as emotionally affecting as they are beautiful.
Graham Rickson



Just as Brandauer succeeds in imagining the magical happenings in the Athenian forest only through language and a little play, so the two pianists are able to visualize the magic of Mendelssohn's music with four hands without any other instruments on the piano.
Wolfram Frey



Three German premieres by Shostakovich [Arthur Honegger's third symphony, Igor Stravinsky's Psalmensymphonie and Mahler's Tenth Symphony in the version for two pianos]: A fantastic opportunity for the piano duo GrauSchumacher to present their artistic freedom with all due restraint.
Michael Ernst



Later that evening in the Rokokotheater, the piano duo Grau / Schumacher played mainly Debussy, but also Zimmermann's "monologues" for two pianos. The precision of these two musicians is phenomenal, their interaction almost magical.
Matthias Roth



[They] are ideal performers, who finish each other’s sentences, but also ingeniously anticipate and thus bring the two pianos to downright sing.
Markus Dippold

September 2017


Recommendation of the month

GrauSchumacher’s Schubert and Rachmaninov contain several amazing moments. Instead of grand gestures, the expressive details are brought to the fore. […] Those who know Rachmaninov’s piano music will be aware that he managed to realise his ideal sound world in these works. A reference recording!
Matthias Kornemann




This symphonic tone panting for two pianos [Rachmaninov’s Fantasia Op. 5, Suite No. 1] is a rewarding piece for the duo, who can shine with technique, show a thousand and one nuances of tone, and together create an extreme harmonic force. These Fantasies are fantastic.
Cornelia de Reese




The GrauSchumacher Piano Duo are always accurate and well balanced, with some great feats of coordination.
Nicholas Kenyon



Concerti III

There are hardly any recordings in which the first two chords capture the imagination, as this one does. […] This is an inspiring programme, brilliantly played, with a real element of fun – what more can one ask for!
Thorsten Preuß



Conductor Sylvain Cambreling – together with the terrifically luminous players of the Staatsorchester Stuttgart and the GrauSchumacher piano duo – accentuated the flow of the music with meticulous brilliance.
Alexander Walther



The phenomenal pianists played these works [Busoni’s complete works for two pianos] as if lost in a dream, so that (…) one believed that it was here and only here (except perhaps in the music of Bach himself) where musical freedom had been achieved.
Julia Spinola



The GrauSchumacher Piano Duo from Berlin gave a spellbinding concert, which opened with Bach reinvented by György Kurtág elegantly and Busoni extravagantly (his mammoth Fantasia contrappuntistica). These works were played from memory, a feat in itself, with every line of counterpoint clearly voiced, every pianistic flourish and crossing of parts delivered with fantasy. The four hands of Andreas Grau and Götz Schumacher seemed to spring from one head and heart.
Fiona Maddocks

March 2015


[Brigitta Muntendorf’s] piano work “The key of presence” is great music for light instrumentation: the GrauSchumacher Piano Duo handled the amplified piano and their microphoned bodies expertly.
Andreas Kolb



The solo parts, which are of breakneck virtuosity, are played on two grand pianos (…) by the renowned GrauSchumacher Piano: fast runs, precisely flung into the orchestra passages (...).
Matthias Nöther



on the world premiere of Philippe Manoury’s

There is a lot going on in “Le temps, mode d’emploi“ (2014) for two pianos and live electronics – the GrauSchumacher Piano Duo and SWR Experimentalstudio performed the world premiere of this 50-minute work brilliantly. The construction is one of elegant strength, which at times feels spontaneous, and the pianists’ spectacular playing combined with electronics is highly entertaining. (…) The polyphony of time that is produced is so invigorating that the time just flies by.

November 2011


One could feel that their curiosity for musical adventures is still very much alive. It was astonishing with how much pianistic potential and intellectual vehemence the piano duo handled the polyrhythms and different tempi of the Three Pieces for Two Pianos (1976) by Ligeti. They played together perfectly.



The German duo achieves a symbiosis, and give sense to the rhythmic structure – particularly in the very dense dance-like passages – and transparency to the counterpoint, making the lines flow and the melodies more graceful.

September/October 2011


The GrauSchumacher Piano Duo succeeded in creating an incredibly voluminous fine-tuned sound, which showed nothing of the « hyperglycaemia » common in many interpretations of Schubert’s lyrical ideas. No, GrauSchumacher impressed the audience with their transparency and with phrasing which was targeted at the dramatic character of the pieces.



Their part is not at all minimalistic, but rather extremely dense. The talented Andreas Grau and Götz Schumacher unleash long attacks on the keyboard, with a precisely articulated striking of the keys and a chase between the two soloists.

September 2011


They play Mozart with a homogenous interaction and dynamic acitivity. (…) [In Bartok’s Concerto for two pianos, percussion and orchestra] it’s the smooth sound and powerful accents which are most pleasing. (…) The piano duo focuses on vigour and the richness of phrasing.

July/August 2011


Instinctive certainty of their interaction and technical brilliance mean no more than approximations to their excellent concert in Muri. Their playing is always inspired and they use it to change interpretational perspectives from piece to piece. (…) They often intersperse accelerandi and ritardandi; their dynamic gradations seem to be infinite. Even a work like Variationen über ein französisches Lied in E minor D 624, which is a quite innocuous piece, becomes a highlight of the evening. But the Fantasie in F Minor D 940 in particular was a real treat (…). Here the Grand Master Schubert meets the superb art of interpretation.



The two renowned artists already impressed everyone with their distinctive and virtuosic playing in movements 4 through 6 of „Six Grandes Marches et Rios D 819“, and in the Sonata in C major (“Gran Duo”) they unstoppable. One often felt that a whole orchestra was playing.



But, as the title suggests, the composer wanted to do much more than formal consistency. The duo Andreas Grau and Götz Schumacher perfectly found that essence. They played with concentration and a downright passionate enthusiasm. Not only the precision and confidence of their ensemble impressed, it was the way they expressed the sensuality of the music, which amazed.

March 2011


on the CD recording with works from Bartók and Rihm

(…) forceful, spectacularly virtuoso (…). This performance is a model of sustained alertness, the recording admirably spacious and sonorous.



on the CD recording „Concerti I. Mozart – Liszt – Bartók“

They worked on the piece’s form with precision and with a fine understanding of line and tension. And it was this analytical clarity that made their music full of pure emotions. (…) In their playing, Bartok’s concert is pure, magical sound, illuminated with extreme sensitivity, from mysterious whispering up to glaring, flashing lights.



Many parts of the four-handed piano-version of Igor Stravinsky’s “Le sacre du printemps” sounded new, as if they were being heard for the first time, when compared to the original. In the transparency-emphasizing piano playing of the duo, the superimposed melodies could be experienced more than once. At times, the piano sonata developed even more attractive moments, as well as stronger dance-like vibrations, than the colourful orchestral version.

September 2010


on the CD recording Schrift-Um-Schrift with works by Rihm and Bartók

Rihm, the productive Karlsruher, remains Rihm – a composer with a lot to say. His interpreters here are not unlike him – namely because of their ability to cooperate. Rihm’s work and Béla Bartók’s Sonata for two pianos and percussion, a classic of modern music written for Mäzen Paul Sacher, make it clear: these confident ivory ticklers can do anything. No wonder that the GrauSchumacher Duo, especially in terms of new music, counts among the best.



on the CD Kosmos. George Crumb, György Kurtág, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Béla Bartók, Peter Eötvös

Very thought-out programming and faultless performance: these traits mark the recording Kosmos by the piano duo GrauSchumacher. (…) Both pianists are musically sensitive and technically facile artists who meet the highest expectations brought about by these complex compositions. Their playing is marked by an extreme meticulousness but also a sensitive display of pure emotion: music understood as structure and sound. Above all, however, what makes this CD exciting is that both interpreters manage to go beyond the boundaries of the work and of time to make audible a thick network of shocking musical relationships.



Not only is the brilliance of their playing fabulous, but also the cymbals, woodblocks, and electrical sound converters colouring the auditory atmosphere, going out like the tide and then rushing back in. The basis of the project is as sharp as a knife, Stockhausen’s Ur-Mantra, und its weight and meaning is chiselled out. It’s extremely convincing how the duo unfurls the composer’s attempts to represent the world of the cosmos. (…). It could not be better played.



The mighty, grand piano playing „Bad Boys” in the Rolf-Liebermann Studio – the “Grauschumacher Piano Duo” plus Schleiermacher and Joseph Christoph – aroused a phenomenal maelstrom of piano keys, complete with violent page-turning. The NDR percussionists Cürlis, Seuthe and Schwarz, along with colleagues and students from the Conservatory, emancipated their percussion arsenal using every trick in the book.

February 2010


on the CD Kosmos. George Crumb, György Kurtág, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Béla Bartók, Peter Eötvös

The relationship between the composers is drawn, above all, with the programmatic title of the work and the sometimes more, sometimes less pronounced compositional conceptions of extra-terrestrial worlds and interstellar spaces, which the piano-duo brings spectacularly to fruition as congenial cosmonauts.

February 2010


on the CD Kosmos. George Crumb, György Kurtág, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Béla Bartók, Peter Eötvös

Both pianists in the GrauSchumacher Piano Duo, Andreas Grau and Götz Schumacher, find an excellent balance between diligence necessitated by the character of the piece and a sound quality that remains clear up to the most hazy ray of light, both of which contribute to the listener’s understanding of the project.



GrauSchumacher are again excellent and showcase well their talents, showing immense concentration and faultless touch. The admixture of playful exuberance and exuberant violence that is a common feature of Rihm's work is rarely more clear than it is here, the work achieving an unobtrusive delirium, like an excited kitten playing with a half-mauled bird on a sunny day.

July/August 2009


CD release „Le Sacre. Debussy and Stravinsky”

Andreas Grau and Götz Schumacher bring out some adventurous aspects of modern music in their intelligent combination of Debussy-Stravinsky. This eminent duo has a very strong grasp of the “Rite of Spring” and proves how great the shock potential can be, even in the four-hand piano version, when the piece is performed in such an enthralling way.



A dream [Mendelssohn‘s A Midsummer’s Night Dream] which cannot be expressed in words, but which can be extremely moving as music. And which Grau & Schumacher make audible with four hands: the cheeky whirring of the elves, the melancholy longing, and the pompous wedding march which the actor [Klaus Maria Brandauer] noted was “Beautiful, always beautiful.”



Both pianists Andreas Grau and Götz Schumacher, performing as GrauSchumacher, are characterised by two features: their sophisticated programmes and their preference for the more substantial works of the 20th century. In the concert at the Tonhalle Zürich the Piano Duo proved both qualities impressively. (...) Schumacher on the first piano and Grau on the second spanned a huge arch over the seven sections of the 45-minute piano work and pianistically brought forth an entire cosmos.

March 2009


CD release „Le Sacre. Debussy-Stravinsky”

With this sublime and captivatingly brilliant performance, Andreas Grau and Götz Schumacher have finally established themselves as the leading piano duo, comparable only with the legendary Kontarsky brothers. In this comparison even the brothers' art of interpretation fades.



CD release „Le Sacre. Debussy- Stravinsky“

One of the most visionary and keen movements of the “Sacre” is the final “Danse sacrale”- the sacred Dance of Sacrifice – suggestive music with immense attraction, appealing in the 1912 version for piano four-hands to be even more radical. The Piano Duo GrauSchumacher knows exactly how to cope with this relentlessness of sound. Both pianists accentuate as keenly as a razor with accents as quintessence, not as an artistic addition (...). Spick and span, the extremely complicated sequence of tones sound polished and clear, no longer meant for merely joining to chords or melodies. A brilliant, technically perfect play on the structure.



This sophisticated programme is typical for the Piano Duo: Both do not merely perform beautiful music, they really get to the bottom of it. So too on this record: crystal clear, but not at all distant, they mediate the transparent structures. They arrange their movements with their distinctive sense of rhythm: with their highly differentiated touch from velvety-soft to hard-hitting, they create a piano sound, which due to the absolutely synchronous interplay, seems to emerge from one huge instrument.



His [Peter Eötvös’] Piano Concerto unquestionably counts among the most spectacular works composed for this genre since Bartók. The enormously complex score was splendidly mastered under the baton of the composer and thanks to the brilliant Piano Duo GrauSchumacher. The Piano Duo was utterly convincing with their optimal synchronicity and fiercely agonic pugnacity. The duplicitous piano movement escalated within dialogue and conflict, reflection and individuality, to an interesting duel between the groups of the orchestra.



As well as with the compact sound structures of Berio's Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra with the world class piano duo Andreas Grau and Goetz Schumacher, the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra left nothing more to desire.



Andreas Grau and Götz Schumacher, perhaps the most innovative and heartfelt interaction of any contemporary piano duo.



Andreas Grau and Götz Schumacher brought the evening alive with the concerto for two pianos of Francis Poulenc. (…) From the virtuosic sequences at the beginning of the first movement to the exotic passages influenced by Balinese gamelan music that come later, Grau and Schumacher combined brilliance of sound with vivacious spirit. Even more so, particularly in the second movement with the theme stolen from Mozart’s Coronation concerto, they succeeded in highlighting Poulenc’s dry humour.

April 2006


Editor’s Choice: CD recording „Visions de l’Amen“

How many meanings can be contained in a single word, especially when that word is ‘Amen’? Messiaen’s exploration of the word for two pianos – its ecstacy, pain, hope, seven meanings in all – retains its power. Particularly so in this excellent, virtuoso yet serious-minded reading.



CD recording „Visions de l’Amen”

The works complement one another as two sides of religious spirituality, and Grau and Schumacher do equal justice to both – in „Sieben Worte“ with internal illumination and intense concentration, and in the seven „Visions de l’Amen“ with ecstatic dances composed of colour mixtures and chord cascades, as if describing spiritual bacchanalia. And as if all of the humanity-redeeming, creation-celebrating transcendence of the two works weren’t enough: the artists overcome the clumsiness of keys and fingers created by Messiaen’s technical absurdity with such lightness as if they were flying to paradise.



CD recording „Visions de l’Amen“

Of course, accuracy alone is not enough to set one piano duo above the rest. Grau and Schumacher also present marvellously controlled interpretations – it is a pleasure to bathe in the vibrating cascades of their ‘Amen’ – and they continue to surprise with innovative programmatic planning. (…) It’s like running a synchronised hundred metre sprint while juggling raw eggs at the same time, and Grau and Schumacher manage to pull it off. All heaviness is forgotten when they play. Chords and figures flood forth, round and coherent, as if they are the most natural thing in the world.