Review / Fiorillo’s concert of Argentinian fire and flair

Music / “From Tradition to Revolution” Ginastera & Piazzolla. Marcela Fiorillo, piano. At Wesley Music Centre, September 28. Reviewed by ROB KENNEDY

Marcela Fiorillo… playing with skill and passion. Photo by PETER HISLOP

THE music from two of the most inspirational and rhythmical composers of the 20th century, Alberto Ginastera and Astor Piazzolla, both from Argentina, painted the Wesley Music Centre with the vibrant colours of Latin America.

Argentine/Australian pianist, composer and performance teaching fellow at the ANU School of Music Marcela Fiorillo gave a concert of thrilling piano music from her home country. Some of the music she arranged and transcribed herself.

Beginning with “Oblivion” by Piazzolla, Fiorillo exposed the lyrical and tragic beauty of this music. The melody can send a listener into deep turmoil and Fiorillo made the mid-sized grand piano sound like a full-sized concert version. She played with a sensitivity and dynamic that made the music melt into the ears.

“Adios Nonino”, written by Piazzolla on the death of his father is a Tango Rhapsody of extraordinary depth, tone colour, style and emotion. It’s eclectic quality somewhat disguises the fact that it was written on the death of the composer’s father, but it does unmask a passionate, turbulent and a colourful life so well. The heartfelt performance was evident from the pianist and sensed by the audience.

Beginning with a slow, distant melody, this piece moved into the sort of music that JS Bach could have written. “Tangata” by Piazzolla, also contains blues and jazz styles, and all happening at once. This was a musical journey through the ages. The complexity of the piece, which Fiorillo played from memory as she did for the whole concert, stood out as its defining centre. This was Gershwin meets Bach played with Argentinian fire and flair.

After the interval four works by Alberto Ginastera. His Three Pieces Op. 6, titled “Cuyana, Norterina and Criolla”, which depicts the landscape of Argentina, was also composed for three female Argentinian pianists. The three-pieces are full of dance-like themes, with a flowing and introspective style that highlight the composer’s vivid musical imagination. When Ginastera adds colourful touches of dissonance into his music, it never distracts from the overall composition but make it more interesting and gels the whole piece.

Ginastera‘s “Piano Sonata No 1” composed in 1952 has become a seminal work that has crossed musical boundaries. This well-marked music is instantly recognisable to many through the transcription that British electronic group Emerson, Lake and Palmer did on their 1973 album, “Brain Salad Surgery”. The piece moves and changes across a vibrant musical landscape.

This was and is a bold experiment in music that has vigorous rhythmic, tempo and dynamic variations throughout. The striking chordal gestures against the complex 12-tone runs makes this piece once heard, hard to forget. This profound musical language is a piece that this reviewer has long wanted to hear performed live. It was played with such skill and passion by Fiorillo, who has a deep understanding of her fellow compatriots’ music, made this music and the concert an extra special delight to hear.

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