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ZOFO duet - Zoforbit: A Space Odyssey / KDFC 'The State of the Arts'

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The piano four-hands duet called ZOFO releases another CD this week, this time with a celestial theme: it's called ZOFORBIT: A Space Odyssey, and includes works by David Lang, George Crumb, Estonian composer Urmas Sisask, and at its center, their own arrangement of Gustav Holst's The Planets.

The team of Eva-Maria Zimmermann and Keisuke Nakagoshi have now made three CDs as ZOFO (which is a shorthand for '20 Finger Orchestra'). Their first, called 'Mind Meld' was nominated for a Grammy award. On this new disc, they wanted to tackle the suite The Planets, which Holst scored for full orchestra plus female chorus. "There are arrangements for two pianos, and also one-piano four-hands. And since there are many differences, we went through all that, and we made our own arrangement," Nakagoshi says. But being true to the original score meant for some cramped moments at the keyboard. "Mercury," Zimmermann says, "there is this whole section that moves up and down in the interval of a ninth. And there were only three hands in the arrangement we had, but we found out there are actually four voices playing together, so we added the fourth hand inside."  She says that until they played it together, she couldn't be sure she had her part down. "The angle of my playing is just totally vertical... We have two hands playing on top of each other. In order to reach the keys, I just have to play vertical, and he's horizontal. It's a technique you never learn when you go to the conservatory!" Listen to ZOFO duet on KDFC: San Francisco 'The State of the Arts.'