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Fami Choi Castro
Notes on the performers
Fami and Sharon’s musical partnership spans many years, but they have recently shifted their focus to dedicate themselves entirely to their piano duo performances. Their commitment to excellence and unwavering passion for exploring the piano four hands repertoire has led them to offer eclectic programmes that mix lesser-known works with their favourite masterpieces by Mozart and Schubert – two composers for whom they hold a particular affinity.
Born respectively in the Canary Islands and Belgium, Fami and Sharon have earned their Masters of Music in Advanced Performance with distinction at the Royal College of Music, London, studying under the tutelage of Irina Zaritskaya, Andrew Ball, and Yonty Solomon, who himself was a student of the legendary Dame Myra Hess.
As recitalists and chamber musicians, Fami and Sharon have performed at some prestigious concert venues in Europe and England, including the Riverhouse Arts Centre, Cheltenham Town Hall, Fairfield Hall, Steinway Hall, St Mary’s Perivale, National Gallery, St James’ Piccadilly, and St Martin-in-the-Fields in London.
They have had the privilege of participating in a multitude of distinguished masterclasses with some of the world’s most celebrated musicians, including Galina Eguiazarova, Pavel Gililov, John O’Conor, Dina Joffe, Edith Fischer, Josep Colom, Emanuel Ax, Paul Badura-Skoda, and Murray Perahia.
Fami’s skills have been recognised through numerous international awards, including the First Prize at the Yamaha Competition in the Canary Islands, the Second Prize and Special Prize at the Pedro Espinosa Piano Competition in Spain, and the Third Prize at the Morisa Mantiel Competition in Spain. Sharon has also been recognised with several accolades, including winning both the solo and concerto competitions at the Brevard Music Center in North Carolina, USA. Additionally, he has received First Prizes at the Excellentia Competition in Brussels and the International Piano Concerto Competition in Tennessee, USA.
Their ability to seamlessly blend their individual sounds into one cohesive musical expression has earned them critical acclaim. A music critic once praised Fami and Sharon’s remarkable synchronicity, stating that “their four hands played as one in an extraordinary show of togetherness.”
Dolly suite, op. 56
- Le Jardin De Dolly
- Le Pas Espagnol
The Dolly Suite, Op. 56, is a collection of pieces for piano duet by Gabriel Fauré. It consists of six short pieces written or revised between 1893 and 1896, to mark the birthdays and other events in the life of the daughter of the composer’s mistress, Emma Bardac.
Andantino varié in B minor, D823
This is the slow middle movement of Schubert’s Divertissement sur des motifs originaux français D823. The work is seldom played in its complete form, but the Andantino varié in B minor, has achieved the status of a self-contained item—understandably so, since it is one of the most perfect and beautiful of all Schubert’s duets. The inspiration behind it is likely to have been Mozart’s piano duet Variations in G major K501, which have a similar chamber-music intimacy, and in which—as in Schubert’s piece—the theme returns in all its original simplicity to round the music off.
Source: Mischa Donat 2010
W. A. Mozart
Fantasia in F minor, K 608, arranged for piano four hands by Sharon Barnea (after Busoni)
In 1791 Mozart wrote this piece in F minor for mechanical organ, “Ein Orgel Stück für eine Uhr” (an organ piece for a clock), K.608. This composition is believed to have been commissioned by Count Deym.
It is a wonderfully intricate piece of music, arranged today by Sharon Barnea for four hands on piano. Mozart’s F minor piece for Deym did not gain the title ‘Fantasia’ until it was arranged for piano duet during the last century.
Variations sur un thème original, in A-flat major, D 813
The Variations in A flat major, D813, were composed in Zseliz in the summer of 1824, around the same time as the most ambitious of all Schubert’s piano duets, the Grand Duo D812. Reporting from Zseliz to his artist friend Moritz von Schwind, Schubert told him that the new variations had been greeted with particular applause there. ‘But as I don’t quite trust the Hungarians’ taste’, Schubert added, ‘I shall leave it to you and the Viennese to decide about them.’
There are eight variations on the theme.