Piano duet version of Brahms's First Piano Concerto receives UK premiere

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Composer's own arrangement tracked down in the University of California

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Brahms’s own arrangement of his Piano Concerto No. 1 – for piano duet – is to receive its UK premiere almost 150 years after he wrote the transcription.

Brahms passed the piano duet version of his D minor Piano Concerto on to his publisher, Rieter-Biedermann, in 1864. It was then passed on to a theoretician, inherited by that man's wife and eventually smuggled out of Germany in a trunk during the Second World War before finally ending up at the University of California.

The arrangement, which Brahms described as an 'unwieldy thing', splits the orchestral accompaniment between the two pianists while the solo part weaves between both players.

Pianists Ashley Wass and Christoph Berner will perform the UK premiere of the work as part of the Two Moors Festival in Devon, which this year has the theme ‘transcriptions’, this evening (13 October).

Elizabeth Davis