Live Music: Iya Zhmaeva & Diego Bermudez

Festival de Musica Clasica Primavera 24

This was the fourth in a recent series of concerts that we have covered on these pages and regular readers will know how much we have enjoyed all of them. The theatre in El Fondeadero building in Puerto Del Carmen stands just above the slip way to the harbour and is a beautiful sight, especially as the town and its harbour change their hue as evening slips into night, which at this time of year has pretty much coincided with the starting time of these concerts.

Readers of Lanzarote Information will already know how we love the way the arts here are woven into the church, the schooling, the family ethos and the pride in the community common to all the local boroughs of the island.

Readers of my daily blog, Sidetracks & Detours / PASS IT ON, have been reading different versions of these reviews, and they will have noticed we might live on a small island but the quality of the live music performance more than compares with the national acts in the UK that play in bigger stadia to larger crowds.

A particularly excellent young classical musician, Diego Bermudez, (each are violinists) has been on stage in all of these concerts. In fact, tonight’s concert, Diego, for the third consecutive concert was sharing the recitals with his mother, Iya Zhmaeva, herself an accomplished and quite superb violin player.

I wrote at length in my previous review of a concert in which Diego and Iya shared the performance with Javier Diaz a professor at the Conservatoire in Arrecife where Diego has studied for the last few years,

That evening we were given Handel’s Sonata op 2 and Turina’s Sonata 2, for violin and piano about which we wrote glowingly of the three aforementioned players and commented particularly on their final piece, of Spanish dance music, how their guest Eva Araca, somehow turned a handheld pair of castañuelas into an entire rhythm section !

In this fourth concert, though, we heard only the two violins playing together in what the American song writer, Paul Simon, might have called The Mother And Child Reunion. I have mentioned in the previous reviews of these concerts that Iya and Diego are mother and son and how that might have been a common occurrence in the Appalachian Mountains of American in the nineteen twenties and thirties of family-centric string band formations, I am not certain such a partnership is common on the classical music scene.

What I did note, though I apologies in case I was being fanciful, was how Iya’s and Diego’s violins, when playing off one another held ghostly echoes of that special sibling harmony that Don and Phil seemed to deliver quite naturally.

Before tonight’s concert I had asked Diego whether he had heard of The Everly Brothers and the lack of any certainty in his response suggested he perhaps had not.

If it wasn’t in familial genes, then, from where did this aching beauty between the sound of their violins emanate?

´Not so much from years of practice,´ Diego replied, ´but certainly from years of familiarity of one another’s styles and techniques. There is something unique when she and I play in partnership and we each know where the other is going in any passage of play.´

All this was so obvious tonight with a Mozart section that was brisk and bright and playful.

How the violins created the element of marching music in its opening bars but became lively and dainty as if somehow shedding the weight of responsibility.

The Rossini, of course, had all its six pieces taken from the opera, El Barbero de Sevilla. This opened with the bright and romantic exchanges, and call and response elements of the Ecco section. It is in these moments that the playing between Diego and Iya becomes unique, because it is never quite an echo, but is as if the sound of one violin comes back in the ever so slightly different tone of the other. It is beautifully delivered.

Even in the second part, the largo al factotum, there was something always familial in the sound of the two violins, and this was a lovely sprightly sound.

The third section, Una voce poco fa was gentle and stately, and of course all these moods are created by the composer, but the players must have knowledge of, and empathy for those moods to express them so exquisitely.

There were excellent harmonies still to come, faultlessly delivered.

The best of the evening, though, was saved for the end, or at least was scheduled to be the end of the evening. However, Diego and Iya’s interpretation of Di si felice inesto was perfect that the audience, (a full house, as had been true of the whole series of events) rose to its feet and brought them back for some more laid back and seemingly effortless fluency.

We took a motor taxi back to where we had left our car when catching the water taxi that had taken us into the Puerto del Carmen harbour and dropped us at the restaurant, La Veleta, where we like to chill out over a pre-concert meal.

We arrived back at our Playa Blanca home at 9.30 pm which gave me time to create a Spotify playlist of the all the music we had heard tonight. I went to bed with my headphones on and listened to glorious recordings by some of the best ensembles in the world, and it was marvellous.

But recordings don’t create those moments that have you holding your breath until you come to the end of a musical run and realised that though each violin had created a sidetrack or a detour away from the main line they were following, these assured and consummate musicians we had seen live this evening, always crossed the line together,….and in perfect harmony.