CLASSICAL MUSIC FOR ´CAVE DWELLERS´.
Duo Cassado Cueva de Los Verdes Saturday 18 January 2020

The second concert of the 36th Festival International Classic Music Canarias to be held here promised us a doe Internationally acclaimed for its exquisite musicality and sensibility. Duo Cassadó captivates both audiences and critics thanks to its originality and charisma.´

An exclusive Warner Classics artist, Duo Cassadó has performed in prestigious auditoriums around the world in Israel, Canada, Colombia, Ecuador, Argentina, Morocco, Tunisia, France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Portugal, Egypt, Jordan, China, South Korea and Japan.

The duo’s album ´Rapsodia del Sur´ received the support of the BBVA Foundation and has been chosen among the best albums of the year and was awarded the Melómano de Oro, and the Duo Cassado cellist, Damian Martínez, is considered one of the best cellists of his generation, acknowledged as such and publicly supported by Mstislav Rostropovich.

The skill and subtlety of the Dúo Cassadó is such that are also recommended, by Alicia de Larrocha, as the brightest duo representing Spanish chamber music.

On the Warner Classics record label Duo Cassado recently recorded “RED”, a work that unites Spanish and Russian culture and includes the first worldwide recording of “Fantasía Española” written by Ernesto Halffter.

There are, surely, Glastonbury-goers who reject the Festival’s new ´glamping´ facilities and prefer instead to wallow, down in the hollow, in all of that glorious mud.

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How many of them, though, would have been prepared to follow sherpas with torches, down steep, winding, low ceilinged paths into the apparent under-belly of the volcano field that is Timanfaya. This venue, at Cuevas de Los Verdes (named after the colour of the water in the ground level lagoon) is surely unique, and the trek was made worthwhile by the pretty, little stage illuminated by hidden, subdued lighting set in the nooks and crannies and crevasses of the rock walls. With a piano and two stools laid out on it and about three hundred people, (most of whom had overtaken we slow coaches en route) sitting around it on comfortable seating, it all looked ghostly, spiritual, ethereal and cathedral-like.

We somehow found three seats together on the front row, (our pal Margaret, she with the bad back, had broken her own personal best in the sprint to the finish) and had only just settled into position when the two musicians who are Due Cassado came down the aisle behind us to take to the stage.

Dressed in an elegant, delicate green dress (when common sense might have dictated trackie bottoms and a fluffy, fleece jacket) Marta Moll de Alba placed herself at her piano whilst Damien Martinez sat slightly to the fore with his violoncello, and a music stand in front of him.

The programme notes, whilst always welcome, left me not much wiser about what to expect. I apologise to our readers for not being familiar with the names of the composers G. Cassado (1897 – 1966), though that his surname is incorporated into the duo’s stage name was surely significant, or E. Halffter (1905 to 1989), or M. De Falla (1876 – 1946) who was being celebrated by six short pieces, and nor did I know the name of A. Piazzolla, composer of what was listed as the likely final piece. Whether or not I was in for shocks or surprises I was uncertain.

The concert would be a magnificent triumph that almost magically matched and complemented its setting. There was a gloriously, polished-to-gleaming, constant background sound, reminding us of the naturally honed walls down here, but there were, too, some sharp edges that further reminded us that this honing and re-shaping is a constant geological (and musical) evolution. Occasionally, in some works, the music seemed to be struggling to make its way to the light at the end of a tunnel, in much the way as had we the audience on our way here to listen to it.

As we listened, however, shadows played on the cave walls. of Marta’s hands, often crossed over, as she created a sometimes solid floor for the cello and at others seemed to dance away from it in some careless rapture.

It sometimes sounded like each instrument was seeking to make its own voice and style heard against the other. That could have led to an audience feeling a little insecure but the truth is this was a result of, and perhaps the purpose of, a composer and in fact each musician was perfectly in control of the music and their instrument and were enjoying the rigour of the ride.

There were beautiful, hummable motifs that, had they been in the popular genre rather than the classical, would have passed ´the old grey whistle test´ with flying colours.

Damian allowed his instrument some licence in its search for safety and beauty, and although it bumped its head along the way sometimes, he constantly brought it to soaring melodies that seemed to reach up to the natural ´chimney´ holes in the cave ceiling, and fly out into what we learned on exit was the most amazingly starry night. This was all delivered to an audience delighted by the risk-taking and security the musicians brought to their work.

They were brought back to the stage for two encores by an audience that had listened in awe to the sounds they had made.

Their encores were, perhaps, slightly more recognisable pieces, less risky ventures than what we had previously heard. All of it, though, concert and encores, had been crowd-pleasing and played to perfection in a fine example of the ethos of the Festival Internacional De Musica De Canarias. It seems the organisers commit to musical exploration and explanation and encourage the artists to fully express themselves.

As we made our way back up to Mother Earth, the beauty of this vast underground labyrinth became even more noticeable and as we rounded a corner at the top of a flight of deep, stone steps, we found ourselves in an incredible cathedral of almost whitewashed rock, gently and discretely lit and as awe-inspiring and as spiritual as any man-made place of worship.

I was once invited to take part in a radio debate about whether or not poetry is enhanced by music, but there is surely another debate to be had, too, about whether or not music is enhanced by its setting, or whether the setting, no matter how incredible, is enhanced by the music played therein.

Answers on a postcard please.

CREATIVITY AT CIC EL ALMACEN

Cubo Escenico – Arrecife, January 2020
Lanzarote Culture opened what it calls the Cubo Escénico cycle of events with a programme that included performance art, dance, music and drama. Cubo Escénico was held recently at the CIC El Almacén and performers included Brain Birth, Acerina Toledo, Abián Hernández, Eduardo Briganty and Dévora Ventura.

Cubo Escénico previewed four consecutive days presenting four different arts disciplines, with the common denominator of being delivered in a contemporary style, created and performed by natives of Lanzarote or other Canary Islands.

Cubo Escénico offered a new cultural cycle that emanated from its new rehearsal area and stage, the room El Cubo del CIC El Almacén. Performance, dance, music and theatre were among the arts enjoyed in this first public edition of Cubo Escéncio.

Performance, or concept, art came with ‘Brain Birth and Her State Dad’ as the first act to take the stage offering previews of their full performance that was delivered in full in two performances in the same day. Papa Estado was a performance created and produced by Cerebral Childbirth, with projections by Félix Díez, music by Alberto Pérez, audiovisuals design by David GP, costumes by Emma López Leyton and Sheila Betancort and with actors Yuri Fontes, Ayta Mesa and Moisés Fleitas.

The central character, Dad State, is an androgynous being who watches, feeds and indoctrinates the inhabitants of a world in which they are ‘breastfed with the sweet milk of lies’ and suffer the violence of a false doctrine.

Dance followed the next day, delivered by Acerina Toledo, dancing a routine called While, followed by Abián Hernández, with a piece called Espera. Different in their choreographies these dances explored the same themes; those of waiting for something or someone, and subsequent exploration of new paths that become apparent during that period waiting. This generated some complex considerations for the audience and dancers alike, as to whether a ‘wait’ is inactive and anchored to a past or is alive, bringing us into activity as we look again at ‘the wait’. That second look, perhaps, reveals an active space sparking creativity and new paths that lead us to better destinations than we might have expected or even hoped for.

Music came as Eduardo Briganty’s guitar delivered the composer’s latest work Microgamas, a risky and experimental musical project in which, as an intense cosmic pass, creates wild, dense and synthetic soundscapes; alchemies of atmospheres, universes and hypnotics that seek to take the listener to intense emotional states through abstraction, melancholy or darkness. The music sometimes sounded close to ‘noise’ but always invited us to decode what we were hearing and seemed to be asking us to consider the electric guitar as the real protagonist. That was brought to the stage on the third successive day of the series.

Drama engaged us with Words of Women, created by Dévora Ventura and written for the writer’s observation and reflection on loneliness, on the ability of the human being to reinvent himself in unusual dramatic situations, as well as the innate need for approval and need for consideration by others. All this was delivered as four monologues intertwined and interpreted by women who reflect on loneliness and the ability to reinvent human beings in unusual and dramatic situations. Directed by Válery Tellechea, this was excellently performed by actresses Virginia Barreto, Tharais Armas, Carmen Sancristóbal, Lourdes Bermejo and Marilyn Charcón.



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