The Royal Schools Music Club

Esencia de España

Esencia de España

Saturday 13th of March 2021 at the Frank Callaway Auditorium,

 Conservatorium of Music, UWA.

Reviewed by Jo Donnellan


Esencia de España
Photo: Maree Laffan

It was the club’s first presentation for 2021. Health precautions in respect of Covid 19 notwithstanding, the mood was festive, in anticipation of a rare treat.

The substantial audience welcomed Deanna Blacher OAM (castanets) and Neville Cohn (piano), with Irish-born mezzo soprano Ruth Burke, presenting a snapshot of Spanish music in its variety and richness. Dance interludes by Nicole Levy, Karen Mooney and Natalia del Mar provided another dimension.

Both Blacher and Cohn spoke informatively and entertainingly on the origins and the place in Spanish cultural evolution of the compositions and of the castanets.

Two 19th century compositions by Isaac Albeniz; the lyrical Cordoba from Suite Espanola, and Asturias (Leyenda) opened. Blacher’s authoritative style was particularly evident in the latter, an intense, dark-toned legend.

There followed five traditional songs arranged by Federico Garcia Lorca. Burke’s lovely voice and expressive delivery evoked the character; amorous, celebratory, faerie, of the songs.

It was time for a dance, a Sevillanas of the 18th century. This Escuela Bolera style shows elements of classical ballet, the  influence of the early French and Italian teachers.

Photo: Maree Laffan

The overture from El Caserio by Jesus Guridi Bidaola represented Zarzuela, a genre of romantic operetta popular to this day. Blacher projected the inherent fun and frothiness.

Joaquin Turina’s Orgia from Danzas Fantasticas, opus 22 (1919) was dark-toned and tempestuous, with a Middle Eastern flavour.

To finish, another Lorca piece, Los Cuatro Muleros. The full cast, except the singer, joined in a stamping, irreverent bulerias.

Applause was heartfelt and prolonged.