The Concert Paraphrase on Powder Her Face, Adès’s brilliant and quick-witted tour de force in the manner of Liszt or Busoni, has been given a new lease of life in a version for two pianos, commissioned by Piano Spheres and premiered by Adès and Gloria Cheng in Los Angeles.
The original 15-minute reworking of music from four scenes of Adès’s scandalous – and hugely successful – first opera requires extreme virtuosity, at the very edges of what is possible. This new version for two pianists, although (slightly) more comfortable to play, has enabled Adès to include many more details from the opera.
Concert Paraphrase on Powder Her Face premieres on the 8 September 2015 at The Zipper Concert Hall at the Colburn School, Los Angeles.
'The original paraphrase adds Lizstian luster to four scenes of Adès' sexually explicit, touchingly nasty opera about the scandals, the fun and the fall, of the Duchess of Argyll. If the solo paraphrase is a killer, the two-piano version doesn't seem all that much easier — Adès has slightly paraphrased his original paraphrase. But the big difference is that it is now a drama. The two pianos do not portray individual characters, but there are two interpreters, and intriguing psychological ambiguities inevitably ensue.'
Los Angeles Times (Mark Swed), 9 September 2015
'The in-demand composer, besides being on a deadline for his opera, also performs regularly at major international venues as both a conductor and pianist. To hear Adès play the piano in concert is a particular delight'