Tuesday, 8 March 2016

South Atlantic Crossings with Gabriela Montero (piano)

When she's not winning a Grammy for Best Latin Album, Gabriela Montero likes to knock back by improvising. Of course, this causes great problems for me, since I define 'classical music' by its adherence to the scored performance, and only recognise improvisation when it turns up in dance or jazz. So, thanks once again to The Scottish Ensemble who, when they aren't doing life drawing classes or linking up a selection of contemporary compositions into a coherent suite, have bought her over to the UK for a series of gigs - The South Atlantic Crossings.

It's not like she can't do the mainstays of classical piano: she won a bronze at the Chopin
Competition in 1995, and has recorded an album full of Bach (and beyond...). The Scottish Ensemble have got her on board for a programme that includes the Big B, and a selection from Piazzolla, the Argentinian composer who wasn't scared of dropping in a funky tango. 

She's a good match for the Ensemble: far from playing to the stereotype of chamber music, they like to find work that is upbeat and modern (or downbeat and modern), alongside Bach and other favourites from the canon. In classical terms, they combine a commercial sensibility - hence Mozart's Piano Concerto, which can draw a crowd - with an enthusiasm for less familiar numbers (Golijov, perhaps?).

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