The greatest 4-hand piano on record?

The greatest 4-hand piano on record?


norman lebrecht

September 08, 2014

There has never been  a four-hand best-seller, so far as we can tell.

But there is a benchmark recording, and it’s these guys below.


Now my Album of the Week on suggest there may be a new contender for 4-hand supremacy – a pairing of two artists who have hovered around one another all their lives but never got it together at the keyboard. Click here to read more.

This is the one by which all other 4-hands are judged.


  • Will Duffay says:

    There’s a bit of confusion (perhaps only mine): the youtube clip is of the start of the F minor Fantasia (D940), but Argerich-Barenboim apparently played the D813 theme and variations. I’d love to hear their Rite. That must be something!

  • Jed Distler says:

    The greatest four hand performance on record? Hard to say, but Artur and Karl Ulrich Schnabel playing Schubert’s Andantino Varié is quite special – the final variation’s brisk tempo and amazingly nuanced phrasing remains unmatched.

  • Martin Malmgren says:

    Jed Distler, thanks for pointing out the Schnabel duos – yes, the Andantino Varié is absolutely divine in the hands of Artur and Karl Ulrich Schnabel…interestingly, the two often switched between Primo and Secondo and made a pact to never reveal who played which part, in recordings. I can’t think of many pianists that carried the art of four-hand playing further than K U and his wife Helen. In the words of K U:

    “Four-hand playing is a complex art that requires enormous time and patience. You are half of a whole rather than a whole in yourself. The four-hand repertory possesses qualities of chamber music, symphonic music, and virtuoso music — sometimes all in the same piece.”

    As for the CD being reviewed – I’d be curious to have a listen. But needless to say, I’d be surprised if there were many more duo-CD’s coming out from Barenboim/Argerich, and I rather doubt that their contribution to the art form will have come anywhere near the legacy of the Schnabel’s.

  • The Lewis/Osborne four hand of Schubert on Hyperion is excellent in my opinion.

  • Paul Lanfear says:

    For me the benchmark recording for the Schubert has to be the recording by Radu Lupu and Murray Perahia

  • esfir ross says:

    The best interpretation of Fantasia in F by Schubert is sisters Pakinel. I studied Fantasia with Karl Schnabel and it’s priceless.

  • There are still a few professional piano duos around though they are few and far between. Here’s one.