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FringeReview UK 2019

Clelia Iruzun Piano Recital

Clelia Iruzun

Genre: Live Music, Music

Venue: Chapel Royal, North Road, Brighton


Low Down

Clelia Iruzun gave a recital of Villa-Lobos, Ginastera, Chopin, Borenstein at the Chapel Royal, Brighton.


Brazilian Pianist Clelia Iruzun has already thrilled the Chapel Royal and her pianism – virtuosic, highly-charged, meltingly lyrical and quiet – fits much of her repertoire here – Villa-Lobos, Ginastera, Chopin, Borenstein.


Internationally famed, with many CDs to her credit and a habit of taking British music to Brazil (Bax and York Bowen) we’re still lucky to have Iruzun based in London.


Whilst only Borenstein is wholly obscure to most of us, Brazilian Heitor Villa-Lobos has written so much that his prolific and under-played (over here) piano music springs surprises. The more costive Argentinean Alberto Ginastera wrote consistently superb music but destroyed much. He’s famous, but still not played over here. We only hear his early (1941) ballet Estancia.


Villa-Lobos’ nine Bachias Brasileras get overshadowed by the vocalises of No. 5. No. 4 though for solo piano is almost as famous though, made famous by Cristina Ortiz’ recordings. Iruzun selected the prelude and later aria from the suite, making a kind of prelude and conclusion a satisfying coupling. Iruzun’s control of Bachian line through the more strict embellishments Villa-Lobos imposed on himself. There’s a strong unfolding and though the Aria ought to suggest a calm conclusion it’s more lyrical and charged.


Chopin’s Ballade No. 3 Op 38 is the briefest and least obviously narrational of his four works. Still there’s a fine control of conflicting lyrical episodes coming together in a swirling climax which Iruzun simply takes at a breath-taking risk, and triumphantly lands it, though you wonder if she can retain rhythmic control. she does too.


Risk was necessary in Iruzun’s next contrasting piece. Borenstein’s Lullaby is wholly unknown to me, and all of us. It’s a melting memorable piece in ABA ternary form, a quietly sustained singing. It’s make a good encore too.


Next Ginastera’s Piano Sonata No. 1 Op 22 from 1952 is for the earlier half of his career, before he adopted a highly individual version of serialism around 1961. It’s exhilarating and memorable, in four movements: a propulsive Allegro, with a question and refrain opening, pounding and passionate recalling Estancia to an extent, but less relentless with fascinating sideshafts of musical delicacy. followed by a quirky sidewinding Scherzo. This deploys a similar rhythmic cell but with a shadowy scurrying contrast as trio, which extends to a tenebrous sense in the slow movement, as if we’re in a dark night somewhere.


The third movement’s delicate and a complete contrast to the surrounding movements: the sonics suggest a picking-through of melodic fragments. There’s a mysterious off-key melodic development which furls up into a resounding climax, stabbing the night with almost tragic, nightmarish intensity. Finally another Allegro movement, more conclusive and single-minded as you’d expect. There’s an additive rhythmic cell and controlled highly-structured climax winding up to a terrific peroration. This was the highpoint of the recital. Well almost.


Finally a return to Villa-Lobos and the second of his Four Brazilian Pieces, the ‘Samba Ternàrio’. It’s a piece you expect would be in the repertoire if Villa-Lobos hadn’t written so much. It’s extremely memorable and is well-known as a recording. It ought to be an encore piece for those who don’t play this repertoire too. Iruzun’s sense of line and delineation of its bare lyricism is a masterly thing.


Iruzun’s a master and this recital was a revelation.