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Wednesday, September 18, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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A&E >  Music

Powerful pairing: Silver-Garburg duo reunite with Eckart Preu for Classics 4: Sibelius and Brahms

UPDATED: Thu., Nov. 1, 2018, 11:47 a.m.

Gil Garburg and Sivan Silver are returning to Spokane. (Courtesy)
Gil Garburg and Sivan Silver are returning to Spokane. (Courtesy)

When the Silver-Garburg Piano Duo performed with the Spokane Symphony in 2014, they played Bach and Mendelssohn together on separate pianos. But, this time around, the married virtuosos will be sharing a bench as they perform an arrangement of Brahms’ Opus 25 for piano four hands. The duo’s longtime friend and colleague Eckart Preu will conduct.

Preu has known Sivan Silver and Gil Garburg for about as long as he has been conducting the Spokane Symphony. They met in Israel about 15 years ago when Preu was invited to conduct the Jerusalem Symphony and the duo was playing another premier for piano four hands.

At the Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox this weekend, the Silver-Garburg duo will perform the West Coast premiere of Austrian composer Richard Dünser’s arrangement of Brahms’ Opus 25 for piano four hands. In this new arrangement created for Silver and Garburg, Dünser combines aspects of Brahms’ original piano quartet in D minor from Opus 25 and Brahms’ own arrangement of the same piece for piano four hands.

“It’s absolutely amazing and I can tell you that because I’ve just spent all day working on it,” Garburg said. “This (arrangement) is so much more relaxed in a way than the quartet form and it works really nicely.”

Dünser’s arrangement has quickly filled up the duo’s calendar as just this week they’ve received invitations to perform it in Switzerland, Austria and Germany, where they will have the chance to perform with the German Chamber Orchestra.

“I never seem to be in the same country in the same week,” Gil Garburg said.

Both Silver and Garburg have been accomplished pianists for the greater part of their lives. Their young son has started studying piano, but his interests lie more in robotics and the STEM fields than in music.

“Today he sat six hours with his robots,” Garburg said. “He builds them and then he programs them. He’s quite intense.”

Silver and Garburg are excited to be coming back to Spokane.

“It’s really nice to come back to places because we are all the time traveling,” Garburg said. “I know exactly the places I like to eat and how things looked and smelled and everything. It’s very nice to come back.”

In addition to the return of the Silver-Garburg Piano Duo, this weekend’s program also includes some familiar music, namely Jean Sibelius’ Symphony No. 3.

“This season … I’m bringing people back that I’ve worked with and revisiting some repertoire that was done in the past,” Preu said. “In my first season, we did Sibelius No. 3. This is a symphony that is so tricky that it’s good to do it again when you know an orchestra really well.”

Like Mahler and contemporaries, Sibelius has greatly influenced today’s film scoring. About nine minutes into Sibelius’ third symphony, “Lord of the Rings” fans might recognize a melody that composer Howard Shore was inspired by while writing the film’s score. The similarities don’t end there, and the spirit of the movies often echoes Sibelius’ work.

“Sibelius has the kind of ruggedness, the beautiful ruggedness that in many ways the ‘Lord of the Rings’ represents,” Preu said. “It’s rugged and brutal, but it has these beautiful, intimate moments.”

The program opens with Sibelius’ “Finlandia,” followed by the Brahms, with Sibelius’ Symphony No. 3 to close.

“ ‘Finlandia’ … symbolizes so much what Sibelius stands for for many people,” Preu said. “It’s also very differently composed than the symphony. It’s kind of … still in the romantic era. It relates better to Brahms in that aspect.”

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