REVIEW: Pasion Pura – the other Spain, St George's, 8/10, by Pete Taberner
SPANISH music has always been strongly influenced by their dance traditions, in particular the gypsy-inspired flamenco (remember Carmen?), the classical guitar, and the distinctive style of the Zarzuela (melodramatic operatic tales with a Moorish hint).
Pasion pura (pure passion) proved the perfect description for this mixture of the familiar – Manuel De Falla's Ritual Fire Dance from his ballet music - and the less familiar – the Spanish dance from La Vida Breve, performed by the tall, striking classical dancer Maria Vega.
The scene was set as though we were eavesdropping on a party of musicians and dancers performing an impromptu session while sitting around tables in a cafe.
The evening was intended as a celebration of Spanish passion in performance. It was interesting to hear the music of Albeniz and Granados, perhaps most familiar in their orchestral arrangements, stripped back to a piano, and sometimes with an added dance element.
Soprano Isobel Buchanan certainly needed no electric assistance to fill St George's with her strong rich tone.
In La Tarantula from La Tempranica she delivered the Spanish equivalent of a Gilbert & Sullivan patter song with immaculate precision – in Spanish! The flamenco dancers added excitement and contrast against the non-flamboyant classical guitar of Tito Heredia.
A good-sized audience included a welcome sprinkling of young Spanish students whose enthusiastic response added to the atmosphere and clearly encouraged the performers..