“Two at the Piano” is the name of the piano duo competition, dedicated to the memory of Alexander Bakhchiev. The competition first took place in the city of Vologda, Russia, in April 2008. The name of Alexander Bakhchiev is linked to the best traditions of the Russian piano culture.
Everything done by this amazing man was animated by his boundless love to music and people.
Of the great number of ensembles, in which the pianist performed, one stood apart – the famous family duo of Elena Sorokina and Alexander Bakhchiev — “The Golden Duo of Russia” as the world press has called them.
An old friendship binds the Elena Sorokina – Alexander Bakhchiev duo to Vologda and to the piano duo of their former students, Lyudmila Andreeva and Irina Kokina, who were the initiators of the competition.
Since 2008, around 500 duos from more than 50 regions of Russia (ranging from Saint-Petersburg and the Leningrad region to Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, from Murmansk to the Krasnodar Territory), Belarus, China, South Korea have taken part in the competition.
The interest and the resonance the competition has had with the public lead to the realization that it should be an annual event – which it has been, since 2008.
Within the competition schedule, such events as the piano duo artistry school, master classes, concerts of the winning duos, and concerts of jury members are conducted.
Well-known Russian musicians are regularly invited to be members of the competition jury.
The A.G. Bakhchiev piano duo competition “Two at the Piano” promotes: the artistic development of the performers, composers, authors of the transcriptions and arrangements; perfection of the artistry of young musicians; preservation and development of the duo performance traditions; popularization of piano music for four, six, and eight hands, as well as for two pianos; propagandizing classical Russian and foreign music for piano ensemble.
“Each year the competition demonstrates noticeably improved artistic performance level of the participants and the musical level of the performed repertoire. I am pleased that the competition has developed into a tradition, that it has an aura of joy and goodwill – a real musical holiday!”
The name of the People’s Artist of Russia Alexander Bakhchiev is inseparable from the notion of the best traditions of the the Russian piano culture. Bakhchiev can be considered the successor of the piano school of K. N. Igumnov: all of Bakhchiev’s wonderful teachers – I. R. Klyachko, V. N. Argamakov and L. N. Oborin – had been Igumnov’s students.
The pianist’s performing career began soon after in 1951, while still a student at the Moscow Conservatory, he became a laureate of the Berlin International Piano Competition, and continued for more than half a century. It is hard to find a city or a town on the map of Russia and the entire former Soviet Union where Alexander Georgiyevich has not performed. Bakhchiev’s multifaceted artistic aspirations included solo and ensemble performances, teaching and enlighening, as well as bringing music to the masses. Broadest possible repertoire, extending from early baroque to premiere performances of contemporary composers’ works, rare mobility, impeccable artistic taste and piano mastery – all these qualities made Bakhchiev one of the most in-demand performers, loved by his audiences. Of special value was his attention to undeservedly forgotten, as well as new compositions, which he brought to the attention of his listeners. Sophia Gubaidulina, Efrem Podgaits, Timothy Moore (Great Britain), Grigory Fried and many other composers have written compositions for him and dedicated them to him.
The pianist’s repertoire encompassed dozens of concertos with orchestra, including some rarely-performed ones. He performed in partnership with renowned conductors – Kirill Kondrashin, Boris Khaikin, Karl Eliasberg, Gennady Rozhdestvensky. More than a hundred LP and CD recordings of Bakhchiev – solo, with orchestras, in ensembles – have been released and continue to be released. Radio archive of his performances is the greatest among pianists of Russia.
Bakhchiev’s art of ensemble playing is a unique phenomenon, representing a whole epoch. As a rule, pianists specialize on collaborating either with other instrumentalists, or with singers. Alexander Georgiyevich was a master of both. Among the most memorable milestones of his work with vocalists were the first performance of the grandiose Hindemith cycle “The Life of Maria” with Lidia Davydova; programs with Galina Pisarenko (one of them, consisting of works of Liszt, merited a praise by Richter in a press review); Schubert cycles with Alexei Martynov, Anatoly Safiullin; programs with Nelly Lee, Victoria Ivanova, Nina Isakova, Alla Ablaberdyeva, Sergey Yakovenko. Bakhchiev enjoyed fruitful collaborations with outstanding wind players – flautist Alexander Korneev and bassoonist Valery Popov. Among the pianist’s partners were violinists Eduard Grach, Mikhail Sekler, Alexander Melnikov, cellist Victor Simon, many other instrumentalists and string quartets.
Of the great number of ensembles, in which the pianist performed, one stood apart – the famous family duo of Elena Sorokina and Alexander Bakhchiev — “The Golden Duo of Russia” as the world press has called them. Their joint artistic career lasted for almost four decades of non-stop performing and educational activities, scholarly and archival research. They greatly expanded the limits of piano duo repertoire, paying special attention, alongside the two-piano compositions, to the four-hand literature. It is precisely in this sphere, having been its pioneers, that they laid the foundation for the new direction, currently enjoying a wide following both on the concert stage and in pedagogy.
The repertoire preferences of the ensemble performers were all-encompassing and limitless. Among their greatest successes were the performances of the compositions of Bach, his sons and pupils; the complete four-hand and two-piano music by Mozart; music of Glinka and his contemporaries; dance masterpieces of Brahms and Dvorak; suites of Rachmaninov; antologies of French duets; much from the twentieth century, including the compositions created for and inspired by them; not to forget, all of the four-hand Schubert – eight concert programs, which became the culmination of their careers.
The “Golden Duo” participated in many Russian and international festivals, toured Germany, Italy, Great Britain, Canada, USA, Israel, Japan. The musicians conducted master classes, chaired or participated in international competition juries. In 1989, A. G. Bakhchiev and E. G. Sorokina were elected co-presidents of the Russian Piano Duo Association; in 1992 they became the first laureates of the Kodama prize (Japan); in 1997 the “Musical Review” newspaper pronounced the duo “The Ensemble of the Year”.
The teaching activities of Bakhchiev and Sorokina were not confined within the Conservatory walls. Consultations with them, their advice, not to mention sheet music from their unique home library, were in demand by teachers and performers from large and small cities of our country.
A long friendship binds the musicians to Vologda. Alexander Georgiyevich performed here often, solo and in ensembles, appreciated the Vologda audience, closely followed the artistic maturation of the piano duo of Lyudmila Andreeva and Irina Kokina, enjoying their successes.
Everything done by this amazing man was animated by his boundless love to music and people.
“The Golden Duo of Russia” — that’s the name that for many years has been applied to the piano duo of wonderful musicians, professors of the Moscow Conservatory, Merited artist of Russia Elena Sorokina (b. 1940) and the People’s artist of Russia Alexander Bakhchiev (1930- 2007). They first performed together in the spring of 1968, and for the next 35 years continued to perform with success in the cities of Russia, the countries -former Soviet republics, Western Europe, US, Canada, Israel, Japan.
Alexander Bakhchiev and Elena Sorokina were pioneers in reviving the interest of Russian music lovers, performers and composers to the four-hand repertoire that had enjoyed immense popularity some time before. The monthly television program “Evenings of Chamber Music”, dedicated to the history of the piano duo genre (USSR Central TV, 1970s), during which more than 100 compositions of various authors had been performed (many completely unknown), made the duo renowned as an ensemble interested not only in performing, but in conducting scholarly propagandizing and research activities.
Radio show cycles, dedicated to Russian and foreign music, as well as archival radio recordings – Dvorak’s “Slavonic Dances” (two sets), “18th and 19th Century Duo Sonata Anthology,” “Little-Known Pages of the Russian Music,” and others – represented a great contribution to Russian musical culture. The unique possibilities of the duo’s repertoire are on display in a number of concert films. In total, the duo has recorded more than 70 LPs and CDs.
The duo’s concerts enjoyed great resonance with the public. Among the most monumental events of their performing art were the cycles: “Bach, his family and pupils,” “All Mozart duets,” “All Schubert duets” (dedicated to the 200th anniversary of the composer’s birth),” “Music of Pushkin’s St.Petersburg,” “Music of the old Vienna,” “Musical capitals of the World,” “Music of France,” and others. Most of the cycles have been recorded on LPs and CDs by Russian and foreign recording companies.
The duo’s repertoire includes compositions for four hands and for two pianos of foreign (J. S. Bach and his sons, W. A. Mozart, F. Schubert, R. Schuman, F. Mendelssohn, C. M. von Weber, F. Liszt, J. Brahms, E. Grieg, J. Strauss and others) and Russian (M. Glinka, A. Dargomyzhsky, A. Dubuque, A. Borodin, N. Rimsky-Korsakov, A. Lyadov, A. Arensky, S. Rakhmaninov, G, Konus and others) composers. The performing art of Bakhchiev and Sorokina has been highly praised in many critical articles and reviews in Russian and foreign press (“Musical Life”, “Soviet Music”, “Die Rheinpfalz”, “Mannheimer Morgen” and others.)
The Bakhchiev – Sorokina piano duo performed at the “Legacy” and the “Moscow Autumn” festivals, organized by the Russian Composers’ Union and the Moscow division of the Russian Composers’ Union, giving a special attention to performing compositions of contemporary Moscow composers. They were the first performers of Concerto for piano, prepared piano and string orchestra by I. Manukyan, “Bakhchiev-concerto” for four-hands piano and orchestra and “Ode on a Grecian Urn” for two pianos and a children’s chorus by E. Podgaits, Sonatas for two pianos by G. Fried, “Partita and Concerto for two pianos” by T. Moore (Great Britain).
A special place in the artistic activities of Bakhchiev and Sorokina belonged to performances with the Lisitsian quarter and with M. Pekarsky. Together with G. Rozhdestvennsky and V. Postnikova they performed compositions for piano six- and eight-hands.
In 1989, A. G. Bakhchiev and E. G. Sorokina were elected co-presidents of the Russian Piano Duo Association. The association has organized and successfully conducted the All-Russian Piano Duo Competition and the All-Soviet-Union Piano Duo Festival-Seminar in Nizhny Novgorod (in 1989 and 1991, respectively), the International Piano Duo Festival in Saint-Petersburg (1990), the International Piano Duo Competition in Yekaterinburg (1989, 1991, 1993, 1995, 1997, 2000), the International Festival in Tokyo dedicated to the music of W.A. Mozart (1991), and others.
As jury members, Sorokina and Bakhchiev participated multiple times in the “Brother and Sister” Children’s Piano Competition in Saint-Petersburg, the M.I. Glinka Young Pianist Competition in Moscow, the Youth Ensemble Competition in Belgrade (Serbia), the International Piano Duo Competitions in Tokyo. The festivals, competitions, and tours were usually accompanied by master classes.
The duo became the laureates of the Kodama prize (the first after its establishment in Tokyo in 1992). In 1997, the “Musical Review” newspaper awarded the Sorokina-Bakhchiev duo the title “Ensemble of the Year” (“For the service to the genre”).
Chairman of the organizing committee of the All-Russian A. G. Bakhchiev Open Piano Duo Competition “At the Piano Together”
General Director of the Open joint-stock company «Vologdastroi».
President of the “Development: culture, science, education, arts, sports” fund.
Board member of the Vologda regional public organization “Businessmen Club”.
Member of the public expert council of the Vologda region governor.
Sponsors the following projects: