Igudesman & Joo and Rachmaninoff make up a trio that…
…unbeknownst to Sergei, have been married at the hip for two decades. In fact, for many millions, Rachmaninoff is synonymous with Igudesman & Joo.
Rachmaninoff is arguably the composer who has transcended most into popular culture over any other classical composer. Just take into account that his music was turned into songs sung by Frank Sinatra, how his name and music caused Marilyn Monroe to ecstatically swoon in one of Hollywood’s most iconic films, and think how many hearts have cried listening to Céline Dion belting out, All by Myself, Bridget Jones included, and then you begin to feel his overwhelming impact. Even video gamers playing Gran Turismo will have been swept away by his music.
But if all that was not enough for Rachmaninoff to hit the all-time high on the Internet, enter Igudesman & Joo with one of their first musical skits, Rachmaninoff Had Big Hands– a performance of Rachmaninoff’s most famous Prelude in C# minor using pieces of wood, to play difficult chords, thrown and acrobatically caught in the air all while the music continues seamlessly.
“And Now Rachmaninoff”, the show, not only promises the return of the “Big Hands” and other classics of the duo’s penmanship that involve the Russian giant, such as Rachmaninoff by Himself, but also new mash-ups and songs that will include They Call Me Sergei– a humorous autobiographical song about the composer’s hardships, and more recent numbers such as Staying at Home, blending the music of the Bee Gees with Rachmaninoff, a number that is painfully ironic, since Rachmaninoff had to leave his home of Russia in 1917 never to return again.
Rachmaninoff, besides being a master composer and pianist, was also a master arranger, and Igudesman & Joo lovingly borrow two transcriptions by Rachmaninoff- Liebesleid and Liebesfreud– which he himself lovingly borrowed from his violinist friend, Fritz Kreisler. And if there are any skeptics out there who think that Rachmaninoff has no humor, when Rachmaninoff and Kreisler were playing in Carnegie Hall, Kreisler lost his place in the music, and when he turned to his companion in a cold sweat and asked, “Where are we, Sergei?”, Rachmaninoff’s cool reply was, “Carnegie Hall”.
It is no wonder that Igudesman & Joo, who have embraced failure as their mantra for success, hail Rachmaninoff, who totally collapsed after being devastated by failure, and yet rose from the ashes to write some of the world’s greatest music ever, as one of their titanic heroes.
Their previous shows, “And Now Mozart” had no Mozart in it, whereas “And Now Beethoven” has Für Elise all over it, but “And Now Rachmaninoff”, will leave you feeling, as described in the words spoken by Marilyn Monroe:
“Every time I hear Rachmaninoff I go to pieces” It shakes me, it quakes me. It makes me feel goose-pimply all over. Don’t stop, don’t stop! Don’t ever stop!”
Igudesman & Joo have no plans to stop with Rachmaninoff at their side.
Prior to our thanksgiving concert with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Music Director Manfred Honeck and the dynamic duo Igudesman and Joo, there was much scepticism within the organization as to how the orchestra and audience would react. However, our minds were put at ease the minute they arrived! They were incredibly professional, obviously very talented, and provided a breath of fresh air for the orchestra and PSO staff. It was such a joy to have them with us, and we received such great feedback from our patrons and the musicians that we immediately reinvited them to join us for a special concert with the orchestra the following year!
“What makes the slapstick duo so original is not that they turn classical music culture upside-down and inside out, but that they never mess with the music itself, treating that with not just respect, but with astonishing virtuosity.”