Friday, 9 October 2009

Four Hands Piano Recital by CARLOS LAMA & SONIA CABRUJA / Review

SPANISH SERENADE
CARLOS LAMA & SONIA CABRUJA, Piano Four Hands
Yong Siew Toh Conservatory Concert Hall
Thursday (8 October 2009)


A lovely evening of Spanish music – familiar and new – was afforded by the Spanish husband and wife piano duo of Carlos Lama and Sonia Cabruja at the Conservatory. With Cabruja in the primo role and Lama in secondo, this was a well-matched couple whose modest and understated stage demeanor belied the virtuosity of the music performed.

Technical perfection and flashy display was not necessarily top of the agenda, but an unerring and innate feel of their own country’s music, with every nuance and inflexion, was what fascinated most. Even when the work was pseudo-Hispanic, as was with Moritz Moszkowski’s Three New Spanish Dances - more salon-like kitsch than true sangria - every effort was made to these sound charmingly Spanish.

Far more interesting was Valencia-resident Daniel Basomba’s Don Quijote (2005), aptly described by Cabruja as a symphonic poem in five continuous movements. Written in a very accessible tonal language spiced with mild dissonances, this was exuberant music performed with mucho love and expression. Its third movement, Cancion del loco enamorado (Song of the Crazed Lover), was exactly that – an eccentric and tipsy dance laced with whole tones galore and contrasted with a dreamy centre. A lovesick Don floating in the clouds, anybody? Even the final Muerte (Death), a recollection of melancholy and nostalgia, modulated through several major and minor chords before finding final solace.


The second half showcased popular fare. Anyone familiar with the late-lamented Alicia de Larrocha’s work will recognise the four dance selections – Cadiz, Sevilla, Aragon and Castilla - from Isaac Albeniz’s Suite Espanola. Rhythmically tricky at every turn, the duo negotiated each curve and bend with much aplomb, and one marveled how they telepathically slowed down or picked up speed at will and as one mind. That certainly comes with playing together for over 20 years.

Finally, more vibrancy flowed with two dances from Manuel de Falla’s La Vida Breve, an enjoyable romp that was further rewarded with an encore – Ernesto Lecuona’s Malaguena. Wasn’t he Cuban? Yes, but who really cares when one is having so much fun?

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