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The paucity ('economy' might be a kinder word) of the pianistic textures, with the exception of the Peruvian Garrido-Lecca's accomplished Preludio y Toccata (1994), did catch my attention -- most were still in terms of single lines (as in so much of Bach and Mozart) in either hand, with only the occasional tone-cluster (administered with a ruler) to remind us of the conspicuous absence of any harmony as such. This stark self-abnegation of one of the piano's chief claims to fame (as opposed to 'melody' instruments) was made even more notorious after the interval by contrast with the French composer Maurice Ohana's lush Troisième Étude from his first Cahier of études (1981-2) -- where it was as if the single-note sequences of the first half had suddenly been 'orchestrated' -- enriching without forfeiting their identity.

Then, as if to leave no doubt of the illimitable resources of the instrument, and the ocean we had crossed during an interval laced with pisco sours and empanadas, María Paz concluded her recital with Messiaen's somewhat overripe (at least to our ascetic W A S P ears) Le Baiser de l'Enfant-Jesus from his epoch-making Vingt Regards (which your reviewer recorded some years ago on the Altarus/Continuum label). Here María Paz gave a meticulous account of the many superimposed layers of keyboard activity but withal a somewhat literal reading where she often resisted the forward lunge of those heady accumulations of chordal sequences on the dominant and other cadenza-like passages -- in short she has yet to consolidate that 'freedom' which her hard-won mastery now allows her to claim as hers by right.

Elsewhere, it was admirable how quickly she overcame the dry acoustics of the double-drawing room, after the overly clipped phrase-endings and staccatos of her opening Albeniz. It was inevitable that Ginastera, representing Argentina and winding up this group, should steal the show with his popular Tres Danzas argentinas (of which the printed programme unhelpfully withheld their individual titles from offering clues to their character: Danza del Viejo Boyero, Danza de la moza donosa and Danza del gaucho matrero).

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Copyright © 6 February 2007 Malcolm Troup, London UK


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