A solar system-themed album by the sublime hands of Eva-Maria Zimmermann and Keisuke Nakagoshi of piano duet act ZOFO Duet is exactly what you expect – airy and lush of wonder.
One notion to immediately dispel is the typical belief for this type of record to posses an ominous, overtly wide-scape appeal. Zimmerman and Nakagoshi from the start wisely step away from that direction and set a tone of spaced textures and timings that allow for a more enjoyable experience. ZOFO’s envisioning of Urmas Sisask’s “The Milky Way” sonata for 4 piano hands is incredibly majestic at every corner, ultimately hypnotic from the very beginning. Zimmermann and Nakagoshi flow in unison with their fingers as the pacing and space between both players are far yet interwoven so well with one another.
Of course, being a “space” album, Zimmerman and Nakagoshi tackle the obvious choice of Gustav Holst’s “The Planets,” yet not only breathe a refreshing air to Holst’s popular piece, but ultimately provide a respectful spin that gives a more sensual, colorful patterns throughout.
The beauty of ZOFORBIT is how well Zimmermann and Nakagoshi not only utilize the added layers of complexity a duet setup has to many of these sets, but how they essentially simplify them – giving a more spacious backdrop to really encapsulate an intergalactic tone if you will. That simplicity, or breaking down to air out a more details, is clearly heard on ZOFO’s performance of George Crumb’s “Celestial Mechanics” in which little nuisances are more noticeable, and appreciated, because Zimmermann and Nakagoshi spread their cues.
While ZOFO Duet’s performance of David Lang’s “Gravity” is somewhat lost in the shuffle, mainly due to their stellar takes on Holst’s “The Planets” and the opening set of Sisask’s “The Milky Way” – the result of ZOFORBIT: A Space Odyssey is nonetheless effective. ZOFO Duet provide once again a resonating rejuvenation into the possibilities and attraction a piano duet performance can bring. ZOFORBIT: A Space Odyssey is a strong case for how a piano duet does not necessarily need to have to be tied to the hip at every moment, but how actually separating and parsing the spacing between can actually add undiscovered vibrance. In all candidness, the repertoire found on ZOFORBIT: A Space Odyssey is nothing out of the ordinary, but ZOFO Duet’s playful, often reactionary-like tossing between one another creates a vigor of splendor much to the enjoyment of the listener. Space may be a sound vacuum, but it’s definitely not sucking the joy out of this record.
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