I am thankful to the piano duo, and duet, and twin sisters Shanti & Sonja Sungkono from Berlin when they thought of, and mentioned my name when they were asked by the Berlin-Jakarta Arts Festival about which composer's music should inaugurate its event. Sonja & Shanti were asked to perform in front of a distinguished audience that include the mayor of Berlin, Klaus Wowereit and the mayor of Jakarta Fauzi Bowo.
When they asked for music which would be a "meeting point" between Berlin and Jakarta I immediately thought of Rudyard Kipling's words : East is east and west is west, and never the twain shall meet". Well, I want to contradict his words, but not with words which I am not good at, but with music. And as a title, I would just use 5 of Kipling's : ".. and the twain shall meet".
It's funny that I can't even say whether I am "east" or "west". Even for this particular piece, I can't pinpoint which "east" element it is; it is gamelan, yes, but which? West or Central Java, or even Bali? The scales are sort of confusing. What I did in "meeting" the east and west is by juxtaposing them both vertically (one pianist is playing the "western" melody" while the other is playing "eastern" figurations accompanying) and structurally; hence there are sections which are clearly "east" or "west". The western part is quite obvious, though also dubious: it is a sort of mix between the Latin-American rhythms and Shakira's (who of course is very Latin American).
It is also rather difficult to make a virtuosic piece for 4 hands on one piano, since both pianists' hands should not bump into each other! Listening to Schubert's fantastic 4-hand piano pieces definitely helps, but not as much as I would like to. And that apparently explains my scarcity of 4-hand repertoire; until now I have just written those short and easy 4-hand "Pieces of cake" pieces to be played with my daughter Alicia. "..and the twain shall meet", after more than 35 years of pianistic life, is my first "real" piece for piano 4-hands!
"..and the twain shall meet" will be performed by Shanti & Sonja Sungkono at Admiralspalast Berlin on the 25th of June at 8 p.m.