Leatham Music

Beauties and Beasts

Stuart & Sons website

Kharitonova & Machlak piano four hands

Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)
Mother Goose Suite
Pavane de la Belle au bois dormant Sample
Petit Poucet Sample
Laideronnette, impératrice des pagodes > Free
Les entretiens de la belle et de la bête Sample
Le jardin féerique Sample

Igor Stravinksy (1882-1971)
The Rite of Spring, Part 1
   Sample 1 - Sample 2 - Sample 3 - Sample 4

Franz Schubert (1797-1828)
Waltzes Op. 18a
   Sample 1 - Sample 2 - Sample 3

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
Hungarian Dance No. 6 in D♭ Sample
Hungarian Dance No. 7 in A Sample
Hungarian Dance No. 8 in Am Sample
Hungarian Dance No. 9 in Em Sample
Hungarian Dance No. 5 in F♯m Sample
Hungarian Dance No. 1 in Gm > Video

Program notes

Maurice Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite and Rite of Spring by Igor Stravinsky were composed in almost the same year, but there is no doubt as to who is ‘The Beauty’ and who is ‘The Beast’. The evocative and quintessential Ravelian set of five pieces, based on Charles Perrault's fairy tales, transcend you to a beautiful and comforting heaven. Even the Beast in it is quite adorable!

The Russian genius Stravinsky, on the other hand, wanted to send them all to hell. He conveyed the brutality and sheer madness of hell by using dissonance for its own sake. The Rite of Spring caused a riot at its Paris premiere in 1913, and announced a new era in music and art.

Composed effortlessly and, no doubt, ‘on the go’, the Schubert Waltzes always managed to fascinate the next generations of composers, such as Liszt and Prokofiev.

They even tried to re-arrange the waltzes, looking for a greater effect, but in their original state their simplicity and purity are most enjoyable. These pieces compete perfectly for the 'Beauty' title.

It was while touring with Hungarian violinist Eduard Remenyi that Brahms heard many original Hungarian and Gypsy folk tunes. He most probably felt like he had stumbled across a golden nugget.

The result, in 1869, was a collection of Hungarian Dances for piano duet which brought Brahms huge success and tons of money! All but one of the dances borrowed material and their passionate and free-spirited nature is a startling contrast to the fragility and intimacy of Schubert’s waltzes.

— Igor Machlak

The performers

Igor and Olga RUSSIAN BORN Olga Kharitonova and Igor Machlak have continued to develop their careers as performers and teachers since moving to Australia in 1995, specializing in piano duets and repertoire for two pianos. They have appeared with the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra and at the Adelaide Festival.

The duo’s busy performance schedule has taken them to China and Southern Eastern Asia as well as return trips to Russia. Currently they lecture at the University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Music.

Igor and Olga graduated from the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory as solo pianists with first class honours. Multi-award winners, they represented the Conservatory performing recitals in Russia and abroad.

Igor enhanced his reputation further by appearing at various festivals and with many reputable orchestras and Olga premiered new compositions, including performances at the prestigious Moscow Autumn Festival in 1992–1993.

Olga and Igor met at the Conservatorium and it was Olga’s teacher, Alexei Nasedkin, who suggested the young couple form a piano duo. Looking back Olga says: We absolutely fell in love with two-piano playing. It has doubled the pleasure, felt enormously rewarding and served as a constant stimulus for further work.

After two years of postgraduate studies at the Conservatory, the Kharitonova - Machlak team went on to establish a successful international career. The Duo was a prize-winner of many major competitions, including victories at: the Balakierev competition in 1990; the International Musica da Camera competition in Italy in 1991 and at the International Piano Duo competition in Tokyo, Japan in 1994.

These successes led to numerous concert invitations in Europe and Asia. Simply breathtaking! – wrote the reviewer in Soviet Music about their recital in the Philharmonic Hall in Saint-Petersburg.

The young musicians also had the privilege to receive the advice and guidance from the Russia’s Golden Duo – Sorokina-Bahchiev. They also shared the concert platform with the legendary Bruk-Taimanov Duo.

The Kharitonova-Machlak team enjoyed many tours and performances in different parts of Russia, as well as recitals in Italy, Germany, Bulgaria and Japan.

They have performed with orchestras and in chamber music recitals with many of Australia’s most distinguished performers, but the most cherished activity for them remains their performances together.

We have both been very lucky to have had the opportunity work with many wonderful artists, but I always feel that special chemistry when I am performing with Igor. There is a sense of completeness and absolute freedom. Olga said.

After more than two decades playing together, Olga and Igor have an enormous repertoire at their disposal. In the quest to make their performances a real Event, reviving the great romantic tradition, they continuously search to extend their repertoire which has resulted their own arrangements of masterpieces as well as numerous world premiers of the newest compositions.

And the audiences and critics seem to love it. It was world class! noted the critic in The Age after their performance in Melbourne. Their playing was brilliant, sensitive, almost sensuous. I was hooked! exclaimed an enthusiastic admirer exclaimed in her letter to Music in Australia.

Among their other activities, Igor is an examiner for the Australian Music Examination Board (AMEB) and a visiting teacher at the Australian National Academy of Music. Olga frequently conducts Workshops and Masterclasses as well as adjudicates various competitions and Eisteddfods.

Contact: igorolga@iprimus.com.au.