An unusual and highly enjoyable evening. (Review by Michael Green)
The internationally known duo pianists Carles Lama and Sofia Cabruga provided an unusual and highly enjoyable evening when they played a programme of captivating Spanish music for the Friends of Music at the Durban Jewish Centre.
They themselves are both Spanish and they have been playing the piano together for nearly 30 years, winning a big reputation in Europe, America and the Far East.
Their Durban concert, their first appearance here, was devoted to music by the three greatest Spanish composers, contemporaries of a hundred years ago: Enrique Granados (1867–1916), Isaac Albeniz (1860-1909) and Manuel de Falla (1876-1946).
Granados died while trying to save his wife after their passenger ship was torpedoed by a German submarine in 1916; both drowned.
Albeniz spent most of his 49-year lifetime writing colourful short pieces and then in his last two years produced a 12-work piano masterpiece, Iberia.
Falla, younger than the others, was not widely known until the flying hands of the pianist Artur Rubinstein made his Ritual Fire Dance an international hit about 70 years ago.
From these composers Carles Lama and Sofia Cabruja, playing at one piano, presented 11 distinctively exotic Spanish pieces. Granados was represented by a selection from his famous suite Goyescas, written in 1911 and inspired by the paintings of Francisco Goya. The four-hand arrangement was made by Abraham Espinosa.
The performance was brilliant, vivid and robust, with the mutual empathy that one would expect from a duo who have been together for so long.
Four well-known Albeniz works named after regions of Spain, and arranged by the composer himself for four hands, brought forth more skilful playing. Perhaps the most memorable was the item called Castilla, better known in the solo version as Seguidillas, brief and brilliant.
Two strongly rhythmical and harmonically bold Spanish dances by Falla closed the programme. In response to much applause the performers gave two encores, one of them, by way of something completely different, Schubert’s Serenade.
The prelude performers of the evening, supported by the National Lotteries Commission, were two promising young Durban singers, Amanda Kosi, soprano, and Njabulo Ntobela, baritone. Accompanied at the piano by David Smith they presented arias by Rossini, Puccini and Lehar. - Michael Green