Piano duo playing flourished in Western Europe from the mid-18th through the 19th century but was largely forgotten by the early 1900s. Beginning in the late 1960s, Elena Sorokina and Alexander Bakhchiev revived this genre of performance in Russia.
Sorokina and Bakhchiev became recognized as the leading piano duo in Russia and retained this status for more than four decades. In the early 1970s, they presented monthly television programs dedicated to duo playing, in which they performed more than 100 duet compositions, many receiving premiere performances. Programs were broadcast by the central television channel of the Soviet Union, affecting an entire generation of musicians and music lovers.
Owing to their extensive touring, Sorokina and Bakhchiev achieved worldwide acclaim. Their vast repertoire spanned the majority of works written for four hands on one piano and for two pianos, from the earliest pieces to modern compositions dedicated to them by composers such as A.Schnittke, S.Gubaidulina, E.Podgaits, G. Fried. T.Moore and many others.
They were especially renowned for their thematic concert programs, which included titles such as Duets of the French Composers, Music of Old Vienna, Music of Pushkin's Saint Petersburg, Music in Moscow of the Silver Age, among many others. A large number of their programs can be heard on LPs and compact discs as well as via the Russian state radio archives.
Elena Sorokina is a Doctor of Philosophy in Music History from the Moscow Conservatory and is the author of the book Piano Duet: History of the Genre, published in Russian by "Muzyka" Publishing House. From 1992 through 2011, she was head of the Russian Music History Department at the Moscow Conservatory, where, from 2001 through 2009, she also served as Vice-President for Research and Performing Arts. In 2016, she retired from her position there as Professor of Music History and Chamber Music.
Currently living in New York, Dr. Sorokina frequently presents talks at leading American universities such as Cornell, Yale, and Princeton. Her lectures cover topics related to Russian and European music and the connections between them as well as the history of pianism and piano duets. She is also permanent head of the jury of the piano duo competitions in Vologda and Yekaterinburg, Russia.
Pianist Vladimir Rumyantsev has performed solo recitals at prestigious venues such as the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, Moscow Philharmonic Hall, Dzintari Concert Hall (Latvia), and Leila Gilde in Riga, Latvia. In New York, where he currently resides, he has appeared at Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, Steinway Hall, Le Poisson Rouge, and the Frick Museum, to name a few.
A child prodigy, Mr. Rumyantsev won first prize at the Glinka competition in Moscow at the age of seven. Subsequently, he won prizes in every piano competition he entered, including such esteemed contests as the Schnittke Competition in Hamburg, the Viñes Competition in Spain, the Enschede Competition in the Netherlands, the Val Tidone Competition in Italy, and many more.
Mr. Rumyantsev has participated in many elite festivals, among them, the Baltic Sea Festival in Stockholm, Ballet Russes in Boston, where he performed piano duets with Elena Sorokina, the International Keyboard Institute and Festival in New York, and the Golden Mask Festival in Moscow in 2014, where he performed at the opening concert at the Bolshoi Theatre. His successful performances of piano concerti by Shostakovich and Stravinsky brought him into active collaboration with the Mariinsky ballet, with which he has performed at numerous celebrated venues such as Covent Garden, the Mariinsky, Bolshoi and Stanislavsky Theatres, Cardiff Opera House, the Royal Opera Theatre in Oman, and the Baden-Baden Opera House.
Mr. Rumyantsev graduated from the Moscow Conservatory under Sergey Dorensky and also received instruction in solo and chamber performance from Alexander Bakhchiev, Elena Sorokina, Nikolai Lugansky, Andrey Pisarev and Pavel Nersessian. Later on, Mr. Rumyantsev completed Masters and Professional Studies degrees at the Mannes School of Music in New York (studio of Pavlina Dokovska), where, in 2015, he won the Concerto Competition.
Currently, Mr. Rumyantsev is busy performing diverse solo and chamber concerts, including a series of all Beethoven works for violin and piano with violinist Natasha Lipkina. He is also preparing a full-length solo recording.