Friday 15 July 2011

Ara Malikian dazzles – Paganini lives!

Ara Malikian is a brilliant musician and a great showman. His violin technique is so superb that he can afford to jump up while playing without missing a note, and spend a few minutes entertaining the audience about how much he has practised a difficult 30 second section of music just to draw their attention to how easily he is able to play it.

When I saw him at the Clamores jazz bar in Madrid he played with an open waistcoat, baring his hairy torso to the absolute delight of the predominantly female audience. If anyone still knows what the word swoon means, these women were certainly swooning over Ara Malikian.

And there was Fernando Egozcue. He is one of the most beautiful musicians I have ever heard. I don’t mean beautiful physically, I leave that judgment to the women packing the place out, I mean, musically. I have heard this Argentinian guitarist several times over the years, usually fronting the Nuevo Tango Ensamble, faithfully and movingly performing written arrangements of the great master Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992). I have been mesmerized by the Ensemble’s virtuosity and by the passion and emotional power of Piazzolla’s music. Egozcue’s expert guitar playing and deep understanding of the tango style was clearly the heart of the Ensamble, and I have admired his faithfulness to the master and have been grateful that he brought Piazzolla’s tango music to Madrid in all its authenticity. 
Imagine then, the combination of Ara Malikian’s virtuoso violin playing, with Fernando Egozcue’s wonderful guitar playing, and add to that combination original compositions by the guitarist, and you get an explosive cocktail of musical creativity, an emotional rollercoaster and sheer spectacle. This project, which also involves three more  excellent señores, pianist Moíses P. Sánchez, plus string bassman and drummer.
The music we heard at Clamores jazz bar was taken from 2 cd’s, all original compositions based on the tango style, but with arrangements in the live version that far surpass the cd version. The power of this music is in the arrangements, carefully composed to retain the essential character of Egozcue’s personality, and with generous scope for improvisation.

By the way, Nicolo Paganini (1782-1840) was an Italian violinist (dates): the legend says he made a pact with the devil to achieve greatness. I think Ara Malikian and Fernando Egozcue have just made a pact with each other to make great music, entertain their audience and enjoy themselves.    

Thank you, Ara Malikian and Fernando Egozcue for a truly great night. I’m sorry my photos don’t really do you justice, but your fans will soon find better ones on your web pages:
If you are in Madrid and want to hear more great music, here’s the programme at Clamores bar:

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