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Music for one, two and three pianists will be played on UI faculty/guest recital Feb. 16

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Sergey Schepkin from the University of Iowa School of Music and guest Andrew Infanti will perform music for one, two and -- with the assistance of Thomas Christensen from the UI music theory faculty -- even three pianists, in a free concert at 8 p.m. Monday, Feb. 16 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

The unusual program will extend from the Baroque to the 1990s and cover styles and genres of keyboard music ranging from solo sonatas to a two-piano arrangement of orchestral music.

Playing individually, Schepkin will perform Schubert's Sonata in C minor, D 958, and Infanti will play Elliott Carter's Piano Sonata. Together they will play J.S. Bach's Concerto for Two Solo Keyboards, BWV 1061a, and Stravinsky's own two-piano arrangement of his orchestral show-piece "Scherzo a la Russe." And with Christensen, they will perform the "Berceuse" for two pianos, six hands, by American composer Robert Helps.

A pianist who is earning acclaim for his performances of J.S. Bach, Schepkin was introduced to local audiences when he played the complete "Well-Tempered Clavier" in a pair of recitals in October and November. His collaboration with Infanti, whom he met as a fellow student at the New England Conservatory of Music, and the choice of repertoire from the 19th and 20th centuries, represents a different facet of Schepkin's musicianship.

"I find music for piano ensemble is a wonderful part of the chamber repertoire," Schepkin explained. "It certainly deserves to be played more often. And the Bach Concerto is a wonderful piece that hardly ever gets played, especially in the original version for two keyboards."

If Schepkin is known for playing Bach, in Infanti he has a partner known as an ardent proponent of new music. He appeared on the UI campus last semester as a guest of the Center for New Music, playing Piano Etudes by Gyorgy Ligeti., and he has participated in international new music festivals in France, Hungary and the United States. With composer Robert Helps he founded the Sensua Ensemble, a group that performs unusual repertoire for multiple pianos, and he is currently recording the complete Ligeti Piano Etudes for Neuma Records.

Infanti's performances while a student at the New England Conservatory have elicited praise from the New York Times for his "poetry and brilliance" and from the Boston Globe for his "brilliant, flowing, wonderfully pianistic performance." His 1996 recording of the original version of Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" with the New England Conservatory Wind Ensemble was selected by National Public Radio for their European broadcast of "Art of the States."

Christensen teaches music theory at the School of Music. He holds graduate degrees from Yale and the University of Michigan, having studied with several of the country's most eminent artist-teachers: composition with David Del Tredici, piano with Fred Schur and harpsichord with Ralph Kirkpatrick. He is the author of an award-winning book on the French composer and music theorist Jean-Philippe Rameau, a recent book on "Aesthetics and the Art of Musical Composition in the German Enlightenment," and more than 20 articles on music theory, history and aesthetics.

In addition to his scholarly work, Christensen is an active keyboard performer. He has appeared on the UI campus as a pianist in performances of the Center for New Music, the music of George Gershwin and a concert of 19th-century piano four-hands transcriptions, and as a harpsichord player in performances of Baroque music.

Schepkin was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, where he began playing the piano at the age of five and later studied with some of Russia's leading teachers at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. He won First Prize in the International Competition for Young Musicians in Prague at the age of 16, and later won the 1985 All-Russia Competition and the 1988 Queen Sonja Competition in Olso, Norway.

Schepkin's recordings of Bach's music have elicited comparisons to legendary Canadian pianist Glenn Gould, a highly individualistic musician whose Bach performances and recordings ignited the musical world in the 1950s and '60s. Writing in the New York Times, Allan Kozinn reported, "Certainly there are associations to be made between two thoughtfully individualistic pianists who regard the modern piano as the perfect medium for Bach's keyboard music." But Schepkin's recent New York performances of the Well-Tempered Clavier, Kozinn concluded, "made it clear that he follows his own interpretive compass."

As a soloist Schepkin has appeared with the St. Petersburg (formerly the Leningrad) Philharmonic, the Oslo Philharmonic, the Norwegian Broadcasting Symphony and other orchestras. He has performed throughout Russia, Europe and the United States, including appearances at St. John's College, Oxford University, in England; the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Finland; the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C; and Jordan Hall in Boston.

Schepkin's performances during the 1996-97 season included a performance of the "Goldberg" Variations at the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard, appearances at the Monadnock Music Festival in New Hampshire, and two performances of Rachmaninoff's popular "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini" with the Boston Pops.