Witkowski Piano Duo Enthralls Audience

Four hands on two different sets of ivory keys on stage captured the community’s eyes and ears during the Witkowski Piano Duo’s performance.
Last Saturday, the annual Hunt Concert featured Mr. Fabio Witkowski, head of the visual and performing arts department, and Dr. Gisele Witkowski, instructor in piano, in Elfers Hall. The Tung Family established the annual Hunt Concert in 2000 in honor of Ms. Annette Hunt, who worked as a music instructor at the School for 24 years.
The Witkowski Piano Duo was founded 18 years ago with the pair’s marriage in 2001. The couple has shared stages around the world, including at Carnegie Hall in New York, the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., the Gardens of Villa Rufolo in Italy, and other prestigious halls in Asia, Europe, and South America. Dr. Witkowski noted that although they have both played as soloists and with ensembles, the piano duo has always been a favorite experience for both of them.
To prepare for the concert, the Duo has practiced on a daily basis since last year. Mr. Witkowski said, “There’s no such a thing as an easy performance. [It] doesn’t matter if we are playing a new piece or a piece we’ve played for twenty years, every concert requires the same extreme preparations.”
In the concert last Saturday, the Duo played four selections, with styles ranging from classical and Romantic to 20th-Century modern. The Duo started with “Fantasy for Piano Four-Hands in F Minor” by Franz Schubert on one piano, and moved on to two different pianos, playing “Scaramouche-Suite for Two Pianos” by Darius Milhaud, “Suite No.2 for Two Pianos” by Sergei Rachmaninov, and “Variations on a Theme by Paganini for Two Pianos” by Witold Lutoslawski. Dr. Witkowski said, “There’s so much great music written for this repertoire of two pianos and piano four-hands, and we love playing it together.”
Playing in pairs creates unique challenges for the pianists in terms of cooperation and communication. Dr. Witkowski said, “Playing on two pianos is really exciting, because we have to listen to each other and make two parts sound like one…and that’s the fun part.”
The Duo earned two standing ovations during the performance. Claire Wang ’21, who attended the concert, said, “I’ve never [gone] to a performance with two pianos before. The Witkowskis were totally in sync and their chemistry was so apparent. Their playing was vivid.”
The next concert in the Elfers Concert series is the Piano Studio Recital by students on Friday, April 12.