Over the course of a few short years, TwoPianists Records has achieved a degree of success unprecedented for an independent classical music label situated near the southern tip of Africa. TwoPianists Records was founded in 2008 by renowned pianists Luis Magalhães and Nina Schumann, and is based in the stunningly beautiful surroundings of Stellenbosch in the Western Cape province of South Africa.
With an ambitious catalogue featuring both local and international artists, recordings issued under the TwoPianists label have twice laid claim to South African Music Awards, as well as a German Record Critic’s Award and formal recognition from the famous French classical music magazine, Diapason. These accolades are in addition to shining reviews in the International Record Review and the American Record Guide, which just two examples of the enthusiastic critical reception of their albums. This critical acclaim is not limited to program choice and quality of performance alone: in terms of recording technique, TwoPianists have set a standard that most multi-million pound multi-national record companies would be proud of.
Rather than a hindrance, being independent of large corporate interests is a source of strength for TwoPianists. Adopting an art-centred approach to creating albums, each recording project is an intimate artistic journey, allowing the musicians to have an active participation in production and sound engineering, as well as freedom in questions of interpretation and program choice. This is possible not only because Luis and Nina carefully select which artists to record, but also because the absence of profit-orientated deadlines and corporate pressure creates an atmosphere conducive to the fostering of high artistic standards.
This scenario exists because both Luis and Nina are musicians of a high calibre themselves, having their own parallel careers as performers, recording artists, and teachers. Luis and Nina met while studying under Vladimir Viardo at the University of North Texas in 1999. That same year, they established the Magalhães-Schumann piano duo, which became known as TwoPianists. Together, they have since then toured extensively throughout the US, Germany, Portugal, Austria, Switzerland and Japan, to widespread critical acclaim. The realisation that the South African music community lacked a stable culture of recording with which to showcase the country’s immense art music talent led Luis and Nina – by now husband and wife – to found TwoPianists Records.
A wide range of experience and musical expertise undoubtedly leaves an impression on every TwoPianists recording, the result of a mutual musical understanding between the company and the artists. Such musical understanding is bolstered by the eminent status of both Nina and Luis in musical circles. Nina was born and raised in Stellenbosch, receiving piano tuition from teachers such as Lamar Crowson and Vitaly Margulis. En route to her studies with maestro Viardo in North Texas, she laid claim to virtually every major music prize in South Africa. Portuguese by birth, Luis begun formal piano studies at the age of five. He would go on to receive tuition from Eduardo Rocha, José Alexandre Reis, and Pedro Burmeister before studying in North Texas – by which time he had already established himself as one of Portugal’s leading musical talents.
The environment of TwoPianists Records is therefore undoubtedly one of artistic integrity. By providing a combination of interpretative freedom, expert recording techniques and an environment conducive to the production of artworks (rather than merely manufacturing albums according to the needs of a corporate record catalogue), TwoPianists Records provides a service to both the South African and the global musical community. The success of this approach is evident, and in order to facilitate global exposure for their artists, TwoPianists Records is served by Naxos Global Logistics. The company has also signed a contract for worldwide digital distribution with Naxos of America. These agreements not only ensure financial sustainability, but also provide global exposure for an artist-centred approach to the business of classical music recording.