Duo Praxedis

Harp & Piano

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“Our passion for classical music binds us together in a spirit of harmony. We love the unique combination of harp and piano and the fantastic variety of sounds that they produce.” – Duo Praxedis

“The Duo’s stated intent is to breathe new life into the thrilling partnership of harp and piano.” – International Piano Magazine

Duo Praxedis comprises the harpist Praxedis Hug-Rütti and the pianist Praxedis Geneviève Hug. Together they have been enchanting audiences for many years. Duo Praxedis’s mission is to revive the once popular repertory for harp and piano that flourished from about 1780 until about 1915. Since 2010 Duo Praxedis has been performing regularly throughout Europe and the United States, invariably with great success.

Duo Praxedis has to date released ten CDs, all of which have been acclaimed by public and press alike. Among these releases are two double CDs and a number of world-premiere recordings. The CD  Histoires has been nominated for the OPUS KLASSIK 2019 in the categories «Chamber Music Recording: Duo» and «World Premiere Recording of the Year».

Among the festivals where Duo Praxedis has appeared are the Menuhin Festival in Gstaad, the Engadine Festival, the Esterházy Festival in Eisenstadt and the Janáček Festival. They have also performed in such important musical venues as the Berlin Philharmonie, the Golden Hall of the Musikverein in Vienna, the Laeiszhalle in Hamburg and the Zurich Tonhalle.

Duo Praxedis has long been delighting its audiences with the uniquely wide-ranging breadth of its repertory, a breadth that extends from Vivaldi, Bach and Mozart to Bernstein and Piazzolla. They perform Baroque, Classical and Romantic works both in their original versions and in arrangements of popular masterpieces transcribed for harp and piano, as well as regular commissions from contemporary composers. Among the new works that Duo Praxedis has premiered are double concertos by Oliver Waespi and Carl Rütti. In 2014 Duo Praxedis received a sponsorship award from the UBS Cultural Foundation for its work in promoting contemporary music.

Duo Praxedis has undertaken extensive research and discovered many repertory rarities in archives and libraries. Thousands of works were written for the harp and piano. The last well-known composers to write for this combination of instruments at the end of its golden age were Debussy and Ravel. The combination of harp and piano was especially popular in the aristocratic and bourgeois salons of the nineteenth century.

But leading piano virtuosos also appeared with distinguished harpists in concert halls, often performing new works. To take a handful of examples: the pianist Jan Ladislav Dussek (1760–1812) appeared with Jean-Baptiste Krumpholz (1742–1790), the pianist Friedrich Kalkbrenner (1785–1849) with François-Joseph Dizi (1780–1847) and the pianist Carl Czerny (1791–1857) with Elias Parish Alvars (1808–1849). Alvars was described by Berlioz as “the Liszt of the harp”.

Why did this combination of instruments fall into neglect? Piano-manufacturing stole a march on the harp, with instruments constantly being adapted to suit the demands of much larger concert halls. Today, conversely, the modern concert harp is again in a position to complete on equal terms with a concert grand, making this combination of instruments a viable option once more. It is a combination, moreover, whose sonorities reveal a rare sophistication.

Praxedis Geneviève Hug on the combination of harp and piano:

“Quite apart from the fun factor and the delight that we both take in interpreting these works, the main aim of our activities as a duo is to revive this wonderful combination of instruments, a combination that was hugely popular from the pre-classical era to 1915.

By rediscovering original works, we also wanted to show that this combination was actually a source of inspiration for many well-known composers and at the same time use our CD recordings to offer posterity a legacy as very few works for harp and piano have ever been recorded.

We should like to fill this gap in the market and also demonstrate by means of specially prepared arrangements of well-known masterpieces that these instruments can be viable as a duo in major concert halls. In this way it is possible for listeners to hear by means of familiar melodies just how multifaceted and at the same time how symbiotic this instrumentation is.

In the course of time I discovered that countless completely unknown works were slumbering in libraries and could be ordered only by going through many complex channels. I gradually learnt the names of artists who were well known in their own day and as a result of my research discovered that most of them wrote a sizeable number of works for harp and piano. Among these figures are the harpists John Thomas, François-Joseph Naderman, François-Adrien Boieldieu and Charles Oberthür and the pianists Friedrich Kalkbrenner, Jan Ladislav Dussek and Carl Czerny.

The large number of existing original works makes it possible to record countless CDs featuring world-premiere recordings, not to mention our own arrangements and commissions. It is fascinating for us to discover that duos of this kind already existed many years ago, all of them successfully giving recitals in all the major towns and cities of Europe.

Harp and piano go together wonderfully well – not least, perhaps, because, looked at closely, a grand piano is shaped like a harp on its side. The sonorities of these two instruments blend together to form a single instrument even though the sound of each of them is different.”

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