The Clarinet Came To The Party

Regular readers of these pages will know that we have reviewed four previous concerts over the last few weeks all of which featured Iya Zhmaeva. Some of you might wonder what more there can be to say about this excellent classical violinist and her guests. After all, there is very little we can possibly add about the quality of their playing, the exquisite selections they play by the world’s finest composers. There is no razzamatazz, no dancing in the aisles. We leave all that to the musicians entertaining the tourists down in the restaurants and bars of Puerto Del Carmen. So all I can report on is the music and how it is presented. A feature of this year’s Festival De Musica Clasica has been that it has seen Iya playing in tandem with her 18 year old son, Diego, himself a graduate from the conservatoire in Arrecife. They have played one concert as a duo and have been joined in others by Javier Diaz Gonzalez, a teacher and mentor of Diego at that establishment, and once, too, by Eva Aroca, playing castañuelas, a hand held castanet-like, percussive instrument.

The series has brought us music by Handel, Turina, de Sarasate, de Monasterio and De Fall in a concert that brought us both classical and Spanish Dance music. In the duet performance by Diego and Iya we were given Mozart, De Beriot and pieces from El Barbero de Sevilla by Rossini.

Our reviews had used up all the superlatives I know to reflect the excellence of the delivery and perfect audioscapes we heard at each event.

So, what could possibly be different tonight at El Fondeadero Teatro above the Puerto del Carmen harbour? Well, for one thing, there was no Diego in tonight’s line up, as this was a concert for violin, piano and clarinet, so Pablo Blanco Medina was in the clarinettist seat, and Iya was playing violin, of course, and Javier was at the piano. Tonight’s concert would feature music by Mozart with his Andante, Menuetto and Rondo from Kegelstatt K 498. There was Khachaturian, too, with the Andante, Allegro and Moderato from his Trio work and finally, to my absolute delight the concert had saved the best till last with Dvorak and his five danzes eslaves from his Opus 46.

Some of the beauty of that savage landscape of the new frontiers that Dvoorak captures so beautifully can bring a lump to my throat whenever I hear it, (which is often as I have it nearly on all my playlists.) Tonight, though these dances, that put me in mind of Aaron Copland as well as the energy of Oklahoma, were vibrantly played with clarinet adding both depth and sobriety, Javier was so playful that I thought of Tom Waits´ assertion that This Piano Has Been Drinking.

Similarly, the late American songwriter Guy Clark was referring to Texas fiddle, rather than classical violin, in the lyrics of his song Virginia’s Real and his chorus of

oh me, oh my, can’t she make that bow hair fly
and how she hangs that music in the air.

It might sound ridiculous to refer to Iya’s playing in that way, because of course, she is far more precise, but I did mention in an earlier review that she can leave a note in the air until the very moment it falls to silence.

The mutual respect and trust between the individual players was evident as always and Javier in particular seemed to enjoy having a wonderful conversation with his piano.

No wonder the audience rose as one to bring the musicians back for a well-deserved encore.

We didn’t realise as we left the theatre that Friday evening that this marvellous concert had been a soothing prelude to what would turn into a weekend from Hell just as we drove home. A torn to shreds passenger side rear tyre on the way home saw us have to call roadside assistance who loaded us on to his truck. We then went the rest of the way home in a taxi and back next morning returning to the garage in a taxi to oversee the repair of the tyre, as no new ones would be available till Monday morning. The tyre failed on us half way home again, but by now the repair shop had closed, as we discovered at the end of another taxi journey.

You know what, though even with all that my over-riding memory of the weekend will be sublime music rather than the ping of my credit card on the machine as I paid out €55 for a new tyre, and around €100 in taxi fares!

The music was for free, and was worth twice as much as my extraneous costs.

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