Reviews of SEO & KATO Piano Duo Official Website

Seo-Kato piano duo returns for another winning performance
In December, duo-pianists Kuni Seo and Shinichiro Kato swept to a first place victory at the 10th Murray Dranoff International Two Piano Competition with fleet fingered, effervescent performances of rarely heard concertos by Mendelssohn and Martinu. On Sunday, the Seo-Kato Duo returned for a wide-ranging Festival Miami concert at the Gusman Concert Hall.With a nod to this year's 250th anniversary of Mozart's birth, Seo and Kato commenced with the lovely Andante with Variations, K. 501 (for one piano, four hands). Their delicately sculpted playing was marked by aristocratic grace -- the very essence of the music. Mozart's remarkably intense counterpoint was crisply projected.Chopin's only work for two pianos -- Rondo, Op. 73 -- was composed when he was just 18 years old, yet the composer's distinctive voice is clearly heard. The Seo-Kato Duo ignited this salon souffle with exquisite elegance of line.Their performance of Schubert's heavy weight, four-hand Variations on an Original Theme in A-flat Major, D. 813 was less persuasive. Despite considerable technical authority and some finely gauged shaping, the pianists approached the music with a modernist, agitated quality that was less than Schubertian. This complex score wanted greater delicacy and understatement.The duo presented the world premiere of Let's Play a Duet for Piano by Tomohiro Moriyama. Hand and arm crossings abound in this humorous pianistic exercise that's a satire on the etudes of Ligeti. Seo and Kato were clearly up to the task.Their most impressive offering was the rarely heard two piano Sonata, Op. 34b by Johannes Brahms. This duo version of the Piano Quintet in F Minor is a fascinating curio. On two pianos, some of Brahms' melodic material is barely recognizable. At times almost unplayable, the two piano transcription of the string parts is a daunting task for any performer. Seo and Kato responded with a thunderous display of agility, power and stamina. Their ferocious version of the Scherzo was particularly striking.As an encore, the pianists offered a razor sharp version of Witold Lutoslawski's acerbic, finger breaking Paganini Variations. Technique is clearly this young duo's strong suit.
- LAWRENCE BUDMEN October 26, 2006 Miami Herald
Japanese piano duo 'transcend superlatives'
Festival Miami, in collaboration with the Dranoff Gold Medal Piano Competition, featured the Japanese duo piano team of Kuni Seo and Shinichiro Kato Sunday at Gusman Concert Hall.Both players are technically brilliant, have a refined and caressing tone, and avoid stressing the downbeat, which plagues so many duos. These 2005 Dranoff Gold Medal winners transcend superlatives and set a new standard for togetherness.Mozart's Andante with Variations K. 501, and Schubert's Variations on an Original Theme D. 813 were for the piano four hand combination, as was a new piece receiving its world premiere, Let's play a duet for piano, by the young Japanese composer Tomohiro Moriyama.It consists of two short movements and is stylistically close to the impressionist colors of Takemitsu. If no masterpiece, it made effective use of silence and showed off the top and bottom of the piano's range.Chopin's Rondo Op. 73, and the Brahms' Sonata Op. 34b used the full resources of two pianos. Chopin's filigree was like pink champagne. It bubbled, frothed, and tickled in a most enjoyable way.The Brahms, better known in its Piano Quintet form, is one of the master's greatest compositions. With power aplenty, and a sound as rich as any to be drawn from the keyboard, the Brahms performance was an achievement that cannot easily be matched.
- ALAN BECKER October 24, 2006 South Florida
The finals of the 10th Dranoff International Two Piano Competition at the Lincoln Theater involved rarely heard concertos.
The Seo and Kato Duo -- well-deserved winners of the $20,000 first prize -- brought lightness of touch and giddy insouciance to the Mendelssohn excerpt. Their bright, fleet performance of the Martinu concerto was a total delight. The toccata-like outer movements were played with fizzy energy, replete with brilliantly cascading runs.
Das Seo und Kato Duo - wohlverdiente Gewinner des ersten Preises mit $20,000 -- spielte mit einem leichten Anschlag und einer schwindligen unbekummertheit den ersten Satz des klavierduokonzertes von Mendelssohn. Ihre glanzende flinke Auffuhrung vom Martinus Konzert war mir ein totales Vergnugen. Der tokkata-artige ersten und dritten Satz wurden mit der sprudelnden Energie gespielt, mit der genialen herabsturzenden Laufen erfullt.
-LAWRENCE BUDMEN The Miami Herald 2005