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DECEMBER 2010, 'An Afternoon in Havana: Piano Music from Cuba'

DECEMBER 2010, 'An Afternoon in Havana: Piano Music from Cuba'

Eralys Fernández, piano

Reviewed by Dave Willetts

This is a delightful CD of Cuban piano music played and produced at the Guildhall Music School in London by the exceptionally gifted young Cuban pianist, Eralys Fernández. The choice of pieces is fascinating and gives a surprising insight into the variety and range of music written for the piano by Cuba’s leading composers. The towering influence of Ernesto Lecuona as a musical force in Cuba is evident not only in his most famous pieces which are featured here - intelligently placed throughout the set rather than in just one section- but also in the sheer love for Cuba and its popular culture which shines through in much of the music. From Roberto Valera’s take on popular Cuban nursery rhymes to Calixto Alvarez’s celebration of Cuban dance forms, from Cesar Sentenat’s Suite Cubana to the sprightly title track by José M. Vitier, the whole recital is a brilliantly played musical journey across the island. One can also hear echoes of the music of the maestro Chucho Valdés amongst these pieces which obviously influenced him so much, and there are melodies which instantly remind the listener of Pablo Milanés at his most romantic. Leo Brouwer’s Pequeñas piezas para piano are a treat too, played simply and sensitively whilst avoiding over-sentimentality. Altogether this is an exceptional set both in the programming and in the virtuoso standard of the playing and is an essential listen for all those with a love for Cuban music.

Originally published in CubaSí




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