It may have been a blustery February evening in the Nation’s Capitol last Saturday but that did not deter Marlow ticket holders from attending a superbly rendered program performed by Carlos Perez of Chile. Fresh off delayed flights from all that fluffy white stuff the Northeast had endured, Carlos jumped right into his program and warmed the hearts of listeners with Dos Mazurkas by Manjon. It was the beginning of an evening of comfort music with one delightful work after another.
The first half of the program was from the Spanish repertoire with two of the composers related by their studies with Tarrega. But, first, Carlos gave us Manjon’s Dos Mazurkas, then he added the melancholic Aire Vasco with its remarkable and challenging passages of runs and arpeggios executed with disarming facility. These were followed by the younger and longer lived Pujol whose Cubana made it difficult not to get up and dance — the muscle moving rhythms are so compelling it’s a shame to be seated for music so, literally, well, moving. The Scottish Madrileno, too, was a dance form but could also be sung and it mimicked the voice in places were higher notes were held sotto voce for delicate emphasis. This set ended with Damas’ Fandango Variado and all its dashing scales run over and over again with Olympian ease. The audience was, then, well prepped for the second, southern half of the evening.
Round two brought us the South American’s in all their richness and color: Barrios (Paraguay), Sagreras (Argentina), and Nazareth (Brazil). Barrios’ Preludio Opus 5 is the kind of piece that gets the fingers moving in a way musicians love to play especially with it’s awesome coda, while the fanciful and fun melody of Maxixa, charming in its way, led nicely into the following work by Sagreras. It’s worth mentioning here, that programming is an art in itself and good musicians know how to balance a program and lead the audience through the ages. It can be done chronologically, by alternating centuries or decades to contrast style and musical development, or by grouping like-influences together. Carlos gets that superbly well and demonstrated it in his own programming by putting space between Europe and the Americas. These types of presentations teach us something about how composers are impacted by their own times and peers. The programming itself can be a type of formative instruction and when one knows one’s craft, as Carlos does, it shows the composers and their work in a sometimes subtle, but revealing light. Regis Ferruzza knows this too. He’s always talking about how artists arrange their programs, and I trust he would agree, that this one gets high marks.
That being said, what impressed me most on this part of the program was the Nazareth Eponina — a slow waltz that just lusciously lulled the listener into the evening’s closing. I imagined holding my child as an infant in my arms and dancing her to it to settle her in the evening before bedtime or comforting when it was needed. What a precious gift it was. There were many gifts last Saturday, but this one I took away in my heart. Thank you, Carlos, for your gift and for an evening well told.
– Deborah Drayer