FringeReview UK 2019
Ingrid Cusido’s a young Spanish pianist who brings a performance of Beethoven’s Op 28 pastoral Sonata, four Brahms Intermezzi Op 118/2 and all three of Op 117; and two Granados pieces: ‘The Girl and the Nightingale’ and the Concerto movement Allegro, and an encore by Carlota Gauiga.
Ingrid Cusido’s a young Spanish pianist with a burning sincerity in every note, as pianist Ambrose Page commented afterwards. That’s a fine summation of Cusido’s gifts. She sidesteps being pigeonholed as a Spanish composer pianist, drawing on that rich mainly romantic tradition. Instead she plays a mainly German repertoire, though I’d love to hear her in more Spanish music too.
Her way with Beethoven’s ‘Pastoral’ Piano Sonata in D major Op 28 is intriguing. Cusido accents bars strongly, and breaks up some elements of legato – but she’s chosen here and elsewhere a legato-rich repertoire. She’s emphasising the Beethoven elements in a fascinating slightly choppy way – the kind of unfolding Beethoven might well have deployed. You feel it’s a re-creation in the making and in the Rondo finale there’s a wonderful sense of singing arrival, a long lead in to syncopated affirmation.
Brahms referred to his twenty late piano pieces Opp 1116-20 as ‘cradle songs of sorrow’ and though couched in different forms – Rhapsodies, Ballades, it’s the Intermezzi that bring this intimate gentle syncopation nearest to this. Cusido plays first the Op 118/2 Intermezzo in A major then the three Op 117 all Intermezzi, of which the Op 118 could easily have been a fourth.
It’s a gentle hopeless piece, full of consolatory regret and a truthful rather than easy nostalgia. With its swifter middle section you feel this even more keenly. Cusido never plays for easy affect, but a rugged truth that evokes a hunched up Brahms in his overcoat, with a disruptive sorrow in the right hand, troubled by the bass left.
The Op 117 are deceptively easy. The first in E flat major with its Andante Moderato drops in with incredible slow intimacy, very difficult to sustain despite the simplicity of notes. Cusido builds a sad arc out of its ruminant gentleness. Couched in the major, it brings off what only Schubert could master: regret in a major key. But there’s warmth rather than tragedy and Cusido reflects that too.
The second in B flat minor is as its key suggests, darker. Marked Andante non troppo e con molto espressione you can tell this will be a little more turbulent. Not as much as you’d expect though. Though more flowing which Cusido arpeggiates almost with accented rippling, so its rises to a swift dark climax with a beautifully sounded bass like a tolling bell.
The third in C♯ minor is lightly agitated too, though Andante con moto suggests a simpler structure. In fact there’s different voices leading up from the song-like main theme which gets repeated slowly into silence before the middle which Cupido takes as a call for stronger accents with a swifter counter-melody. At several pints this haunting piece almost stops altogether.
Granados is known for pieces like ‘Quejas oh la maja y el ruisenor’ which translates into the famous Girl with Nightingale. It builds – and Cusido this is clearly, cleanly structured – into a peroration where the liquid notes of the central melody raise a kind of plangent ecstasy. Like Brahms Grandos could couch a great arc of song in a more complex piece. its dissolve too is magical.
Granados like Chopin wrote an abortive concerto and turned it here into an ‘Allegro de concierto’ which gifts us a heroic structure, some virtuosic elements and more than that, a sense of the thew and heft of a real concerto emerging. This is pure Cusido territory: the big-boned but delicate structure, also unfamiliar, so her particular pianism comes as a revelation.
Finally a living composer Carlota Gauiga (I hope I’ve got the spelling, impossible to discover on the net), now in her eighties who studied at the same academy as Granados, and whom Cusido knows well. Her piece ‘Luna Elema’ is like a brief post-tonal waltz that could have been written almost in Granados’ time. The somewhat angular rhythms and disruptions marking Cusido’s approach to German repertoire dissolve more completely in this repertoire.
Cusido is a pianist of integrity and gritty lyricism. It’d be fascinating to see what she brings to us in 2020.