Begona Uriarte and Karl-Hermann Mrongovius
For a long time the names Begona Uriarte and Karl-Hermann Mrongovius have constituted the ideal of a piano duo in the music world. Admired by colleagues of this genre and highly regarded by contemporary composers who have written works dedicated to this duo, and having received superlative praise from renowned critics, this partnership existing over many decades has become the benchmark for many connoisseurs.
If strangely enough this duo is not so familiar to the wider public, then this can presumably be attributed to their almost stubborn avoidance of any media attention. Peter Cosse, one of the most acclaimed connoisseurs of the music world in general, and in particular of the piano world, made the following statement: "As a duo, Begona Uriarte and Karl-Hermann Mrongovius, since causing a sensation as prize-winners at international competitions, are qualified like no other formation of our time to play the great works for two pianos and piano works for four hands by J. S. Bach to G. Ligeti - yes, even to be their custodians to preserve them in artistic honour. For they are far removed from treating treasures lightly, which quite literally are left in the devoted hands of the pianist." Begona Uriarte, born in Spain, studied with Jose Cubiles (the pianist who performed de Falla's "Night in the Spanish gardens" for the first time) in Madrid, Ives Nat in Paris and at the music high school in Munich in master classes with Rosl Schmid. Karl-Hermann Mrongovius, born in Munich, also studied piano in the same master class: furthermore he studied conducting with G.E. Lessing and A. Mennerich as well as Lied accompaniment with Hans Altmann. Since 1982 he is himself a professor of piano at his original place of study. Many young pianists have emerged from his master classes as winners of international competitions, towards whose careers Begona Uriarte has also contributed a great deal. Initially both pianists began their career as solo performers (thus B.U. first performed with the Munich Philharmonic the third piano concerto by Prokofieff conducted by Gerd Albrecht: K.-H. M. also with the Munich Philharmonic, performed the Wandererfantasie by Schubert (in the adapted version for piano and orchestra by Liszt). Only later did they decide to perform as a duo, about which both were initially sceptical. Recordings by the duo Vronsky/ Babin (which for a long time served as their model, and remains so today in many aspects) finally convinced them, that sound and touch do not necessarily have to suffer when playing with two pianos, and that flexibility and individuality do not have to be drastically restricted or even sacrificed. At the same time, both pianists have not in the slightest moved away from solo performances. Thus B.U. for example performed the latest solo productions of the "Iberia-Suite" by Albeniz and the "Fantasia bartica" by de Falla, and K.-H. M. performed as the soloist with the piano part of "Prometheus" by Scrjabin in a concert with the Munich Philharmonic conducted by Michael Gielen last year.
Invitations to many festivals, jury at international competitions and numerous CD's (among others the entire works for piano by Maurice Ravel) reflect the prestige that both pianists enjoy.
The duo Uriarte / Mrongovius have already released the following recordings for ARTS: Richard Strauss: Piano works for four hands (ARTS 47262-2,47266-2), Melodramas (ARTS 47260-2) Antonio Soler: Conciertos, Sonatas, Fandango (ARTS 47552-2) Besides this recording, the entire works of Mendelssohn for four hands (ARTS 47622-2), also performed by the duo U./M. is released.