Русская версия
Alexander Bakhchiev and Elena Sorokina

The art of piano duo playing had been flourishing from the mid-18th throughout the 19th century and then almost entirely forgotten by the early 1900s. Since the late 1960s, Alexander Bakhchiev and Elena Sorokina revived this genre of performance in Russia. By now it has become an integral part of musical life, and has also been rediscovered to be a superb method of teaching piano playing, which is practiced in many schools of music all over Russia.

Over the years, Alexander Bakhchiev and Elena Sorokina became unanimously recognized as the leading duo couple in Russia and retained this status for more than four decades. In the early 1970s, they conducted monthly TV programs dedicated to duo playing, in which they performed more than one hundred original duet compositions. Many of those compositions were performed for the first time in the Soviet Union. Programs were broadcast by the central television channel of the Soviet Union, and helped raise a whole generation of musicians and amateurs throughout the country.

Alexander Bakhchiev and Elena SorokinaThrough extensive touring in Russia, Europe, United States, Canada, Israel, and Japan, Sorokina and Bakhchiev received world recognition. Their enormous repertoire covered the majority of ensemble works originally written for four hands on one piano and for two pianos, from the earliest duet pieces to modern compositions dedicated to them by some of the best contemporary composers (among them I. Manukyan, T. Moore, G. Fried, L. Lyubovsky, A. Boyarsky, A. Schnittke, E. Podgaits, S. Gubaidulina and others). The duet often performed thematic concert series such as “The Music Capitals of the World,” “The Complete Mozart Piano Duets,” “The Complete Schubert Piano Duets,” “The Complete Schumann Piano Duets,” “The Complete Rachmaninov Piano Duets,” “J. S. Bach, His Family and Students,” “J. S. Bach, the Complete Concertos for Two Claviers with Strings,” “Duets of the French Composers,” “Music of the Old Vienna,” “Music of Pushkin's Saint Petersburg,” “Music in Moscow of the Silver Age,” “From the History of the Duet Sonata,” and others. Many of the programs were released on LPs and compact discs and recorded for the archives of the Russian radio.

In 1989, the All-Union (now — all-Russian) Association of Piano Duets was founded, with Sorokina and Bakhchiev having been unanimously elected its presidents. They deserve a big part of the credit for organizing and conducting International Festivals of Piano Duets in Yekaterinburg, Saint-Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Moscow and other cities. They were regularly invited to serve on the juries of international competitions and festivals (in Tokyo, Jerusalem, Moscow, Saint-Petersburg), as well as to teach piano duet master classes in many cities of Russia, in European countries, Japan, and Israel.

Alexander Bakhchiev (b. 1930, Moscow — d. 2007, Moscow) toured extensively as a soloist, as an ensemble player, and as a teacher. His name appears on more than 100 LPs and CDs, and he has the unique distinction of being the pianist with the largest number of recordings in the Russian radio archives. He was a professor of the Moscow Conservatory, teaching a chamber performance class. Since 2008, an annual all-Russian piano duo competition “Two at the Piano” named after A. Bakhchiev has been taking place in the city of Vologda. The competition takes place annually, alternating between children’s duos in even years and adult duos in odd years. Also, a competition of children’s duos “Dialogs at the piano” in memory of A. G. Bakhchiev takes place every two years in Yekaterinburg. In 2016, it received the status of an International competition. Every year, concerts in memory of A. G. Bakhchiev take place at the Maly Hall of the Moscow Conservatory. Many of Alexander Bakhchiev’s former musical partners participate in these performances.

A. Bakhchiev's page on the website of the Moscow Conservatory

Elena Sorokina (b. 1940, Moscow) is a doctor of music history and the author of the book “Piano Duet: History of the Genre”. From 1992 through 2011, she was head of the Russian music history program at the Moscow Conservatory, and from 2001 through 2009 also served as a vice-president for research and performing arts of the Moscow Conservatory. Until July 2016, she was a professor of the Russian music history and chamber ensemble programs at the Moscow Conservatory. Elena is currently living in New York and in Moscow. She is a permanent head of the jury of the piano duos competitions in Vologda and in Yekaterinburg. She gives talks at US universities (Cornell, Yale, Princeton, Boston University, New York University, Montclair University, Mannes College). Her lectures cover a wide array of topics related to Russian and European music and connections between them, history of pianism and piano duets. Among them are series of lectures on the Russian musical culture of the Silver Age. Other topics include “John Field and Russian piano school,” “At the roots of Russian pianism (foreign musicians in Russia),” “Russian ‘Winterreise’ of Robert Schumann,” “Liszt and Russian musical culture,” “Russian thought on Mozart,” “Pianist Alexander Ziloti — ‘the Apostle of Russian Music’ (P. I. Tchaikovsky).”

E. Sorokina's page on the website of the Moscow Conservatory

© Elena Sorokina, 2011 – 2014