DuoKeira Piano Duo was formed in 2008 by Michela Chiara Borghese and Sabrina De Carlo, two pianists who are both passionate about chamber music, but are very different in temperament and by training. Michela brings to the partnership absolute precision, strong sound, unfailing stamina and rhythmic drive. Complementary to these qualities are Sabrina’s melodic elegance, sense of timing and imaginative spacing, her unceasing quest for true quality of sound, and sense of deep bonds with the composers whose work they play.
The name DuoKeira derives from the Greek word for “hand”, and from Chiron, the name of the centaur learned in both the arts and the sciences whose double nature, as both animal and human, fused together the qualities of reason and intuition. The concept of doubleness or duality sums up perfectly DuoKeira’s approach to their music, which is on the one hand the site of ongoing intellectual exchange and a meeting place between the musical sensibilities of Michele Chiara and Sabrina, and on the other, a space for the dialogue which, during performance, develops between the two musicians and their public.
It is in this spirit of dialogue that, as well as giving concerts in traditional, prestigious venues (Carnegie Hall New York, the Vatican Museums, the Cappella Paolina in the Quirinal Palace, the Steinway Hall Boston, the Auditorium of the Accademia Nazionale di Danza and Teatro Eliseo in Rome, at the UNESCO building in Paris, Brandeis University in Waltham, and at the Community Music Works Hall in Providence), DuoKeira regularly puts on informal and experimental performances in public and private spaces of industrial wastelands and fragile environments (the Centro culturale Voltaire in Rouen, the Espace Saint-Sauveur in the Corentin Celton Hospital in Issy-les-Moulineaux, Paris, the Ridotto of theTeatro Comunale of L’Aquila in the wake of the terrible earthquake of 2009). On these occasions, DuoKeira offers a public unlike that which usually frequents concert halls an original approach to classical music: one which takes the tradition as a starting point from which to create ever new and unexpected emotions.
This desire to innovate is also what pushes DuoKeira to renew their repertory constantly, making as musicians an effort that also involves developing intellectually. To this end Michela Chiara and Sabrina juxtapose to classic works for piano duos transcription of orchestral pieces and works by contemporary composers. This is reflected in their choice of compositions to record: Giochi di Piano a Quattro Mani (RES 2009) is a selection of pieces from different epochs linked by the theme of play; the CD dedicated to the music of Mendelssohn (Brilliant Classics 2020), was greeted by the Sole 24 Ore’s music critic, Quirino Principe, as “a tale of the supernatural reinvented by DuoKeira with a charm I would say is now rare, perhaps altogether forgotten”; the story-line of their latest CD, Barber, Borodin, Debussy, Ravel (Aulicus Classics 2021) is supplied by the Ballets Russes.
Engaging also in creative dialogue with other arts, DuoKeira has designed a number of exhibition-events - “Vulnerabili all’amore”, “Vision”, “Il giardino incantato”, “Dream for two”, “Danza con 20 dita!” – which combine music with acting, dance and video projections in a complex, variegated mosaic of sensory stimuli supported by the synaesthetic power of music. Several of these were performed during the two “Villa Torlonia Roma Piano Duo Festivals” (VTRP²) which DuoKeira organized and directed at the Villa Torlonia Theatre in Rome in 2015 and 2016. The first of these was opened by the Duo with the world première of Samuel Barber’s Fantasy for Two Pianos, with which they had been entrusted by the International Center for American Music and the Capricorn Society. Other marks of recognition include special commendations for their executions of works by Samuel Barber and Darius Milhaud on the occasion of the "IBLA Grand Prize World Music Competition”, and the Silver Medal for Outstanding Achievement awarded in November 2017 for their performance of Barber’s Souvenirs.
Michela and Sabrina, that could be Michela Chiara Keira and Sabrina Keira, like the Keira sisters… The enthusiasm, the energy, the desire to go deep and feel... so different from each other! This strikes me, because the final result is amazing, listening to them play. The third dimension, the structure of the pieces they play and what comes at the end is very clear and defined. Then ..., meeting them together, you feel and understand their Love and dedication to Music; and one can remain not only listening to them play, but also talk for a timeless time.
Edoardo Hubert, pianist and conductor
Beautiful music, well-chosen and well played (and god knows how difficult it is to make
good 4 hands music: two heads and 20 fingers, not to mention the 4-feet, ... basically a monster!).
Michele Dall’Ongaro, composer and musicologist
I was impressed by your poetry, by the grace and lightness you managed to express interpreting these pages, the way you make sing and even dance the magnificent instrument you play. I found your playing of considerable sensitivity (and ‘femininity'), which stylistically suites this collection …it seems to me that you manage well to catch the references to the past world dear to Barber.
Aloma Bardi (about Barber’s Souvenirs), musicologist and president of the International Center for American Studies
The DuoKeira, what a pleasant surprise, I never thought that a piano could be raped with sweetness and beauty, especially with a fine technique and touched by 4 hands of rare artistic intelligence, hats
off, what executions... they were divine, beautiful, solar, and the pieces were performed with a single breath, as if they were kept alive by a single heart... EXCITING!
April, 6 - 2013 by Rockol.it
This year Carnegie concert opened with the Italian piano duo of Sabrina De Carlo and Michela Chiara Borghese. They presented music of Samuel Barber with great style and very nice use of dynamics.
They played with a rich, full sound and admirable teamwork .
Concert at the Carnegie Hall, New York, by Jeffrey James, music journalist
In this recording the DuoKeira, so original in the choice and sequence of the pieces, chooses the main street of the game, of surprise, of inventive departure. It proposes a chamber music dimension of doing and listening: there is no music without an interpreter, neither is there without an audience, without a user. The relationship between score-hands-sound-ear is expressed within an arms reach, in which the physical presence, the body, the people, the breath of the interpreter and of those who assist are essential to succeed.
What prevails, as it should, is the pleasure of the invention, the making of music here and now. Together with a complicity that is taken for granted and well understood, yet achieved with tenacity and passion.
The interpretation breathes with the pace of the music: the pauses, the silences (critical for creating the preparation of the final) are themselves music, its memory, its expectation and desire.
Music that is dance, hands asking the body to live, to speak, to move. Hands that don't make mistakes: how happily serious, lively, the game of DuoKeira. Mozart, Milhaud would have liked it.
Sandro Cappelletto (booklet notes of CD "Giochi di piano a quattro mani"), musicologist
The performance is graceful, brilliant, funny. The sounds are balanced. Above all, they understood that they should give the impression of identity. Of the same performer. A mind with four hands. So it must be a duo.
In this way the polytonality of Milhaud finds its best achievement.
What a nice idea to begin their program with the lovely Debussy Menuet. Well coordinated and beautifully played. Next came Milhaud- wonderfully whimsical and enjoyable piece.
I loved the happiness and verve of the duo performance. Wonderful coordination and again, beautiful playing.
Barber Tango - was a very good way to close this wonderfully off -center program. What a wonderful duo- piano playing. Itis a beautiful thing!
Jury members of Ibla Grand Prix International Competition, 2010
I feel I can say that the DuoKeira, born from the meeting of two refined young professional musician, enthusiastic, never dull in the choice of the repertoire and always deep in their musical choices, represents a point of considerable interest in the Italian music scene and it is really intended to communicate to the public something new and precoius.
Andrea Coen, harpsichordist and fortepianist
ABOUT MENDELSSOHN'S CD
THE UNESPECTED PIANO. A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the fantasy overture The Fair Melusine ... receive virtuosic, strongly committed and emotional sensitive readings from the DuoKeira Piano Duo on a new Brilliant Classics CD.…...the rippling arpeggios that sound like waves, setting the scene for The Fair Melusine, have all the delicacy of tone-painting that one could wish, and the four chords that quietly open and close A Midsummer Night’s Dream are just as magical a curtain-raising and -lowering event on keyboard as on woodwinds.
It is really enjoyable to listen to these famous and colorful pages on the piano that talk about fairies, goblins and magic because the two flexible interpreters, thanks to an iridescent touch, manage not to make one regret the original symphonic too much.
The pianists bring grace and charm to the overture's slower sections, and plenty of energy to the faster ones, without allowing the music to turn brittle or aggressive….The billowing theme in eighth notes that opens the overture is never far away, and when the tempo picks up, the obsessively repeating eighth notes that give the new theme a Spanish feel also dominate the music….Even played on a piano, A Midsummer Night's Dream loses none of its appeal, even though it loses some of its color. The song with chorus, Ye spotted snakes, an inspiration so lovely it usually makes me tear up, remains lovely here. DuoKeira scores bonus points in the closing section of the Intermezzo by pointing up its rustic qualities, which most performances do not realize.
If you prefer a mellower, warmer approach to this music, DuoKeira should satisfy you, as they did me.
5 stars: Warm, capable performances of music that is as much fun on a piano
Your record is really brilliant and very enjoyable. Brave! Really difficult stuff, especially to render with the piano and especially with 4 hands.
DuoKeira bring out the magic of that opening, conjured from just a few piano chords, and they make the fairy passages delightfully delicate.... they work wonderfully well at conjuring a variety of textures, lightening where possible and those fairies are rarely absent. My favourite movement is the transcription of the chorus 'Ye spotted snakes', Mendelssohn's somewhat radical re-working for just four hands creates a tiny bit of magic….What the disc gives us is a lovely window into the 19th century drawing room, the exploration of repertoire via transcription for piano duet. And DuoKeira makes a fine case for Mendelssohn's arrangements as works in their own right.
Michela Chiara Borghese and Sabrina De Carlo, aka DuoKeira, offer a real rarity to classical enthusiasts. In fact, if the Dream is known in the orchestral version, much less so is the one for four hands piano. The DuoKeira is the perfect interpreter of it, capturing its magic, freshness, and the smile of the theatrical piece to which it is the soundtrack.
LUCIANO DEL SETTE
A four-handed supernatural fairy tale. The DuoKeira gives a reinvention with a rare charm, we would say "forgotten". The two pianists set themselves a challenge: to create a luminous but profound timbre that lights up the vision, the body movements, the game, the theatricality. We recommend their CD and would be curious about the effects. In the meantime, we are wildly siding with the two challengers.