De Solaun brings refined romanticism to Miami Piano Fest Academy

By Inesa Gegprifti

Josu de Solaun performed at the Miami International Piano Festival Academy Friday night in Davie.

Josu de Solaun performed at the Miami International Piano Festival Academy Friday night in Davie.

Surrounded by artwork at Nova Southeastern University’s Adolfo and Marisela Cotilla Gallery in Davie, Spanish pianist Josu de Solaun performed Friday evening before a small yet enthusiastic audience as part of the Miami International Piano Festival Academy. 

A recent winner of the Enescu International Competition in Romania, de Solaun displayed qualities that distinguish him as a brilliant and sophisticated musician. Although the repertoire selection was traditional, his interpretation remained fresh and unhackneyed throughout the program.

In his brief introduction, de Solaun spoke of the program being a “concert of friendships” due to the close connections between Enrique Granados, Claude Debussy, and Manuel de Falla, as well as the significant influences of Frédéric Chopin and Robert Schumann on the two Spanish composers.

The opening work, “La Maja y el Rusieñor” from Granados’ Goyescas was fitting to the ambiance, as the music was inspired by paintings of Francisco Goya. Here, the pianist played with heightened lyricism and warm tone throughout the rich harmonic changes, indulging the melodies while avoiding sentimentality. 

Debussy’s “Ondine” gave de Solaun the opportunity to showcase his exceptional pedaling, refined touch, and terracing of sonorities. In “Feux d’artifice” he brought out the mercurial character of the fireworks in the rapid bustling changes of articulations and dynamics. 

The first half concluded with de Falla’s Fantasia Baetica, dedicated to the Russian pianist Arthur Rubinstein in 1919. In its exploration of primitivism and nationalism, this work is a cultural tribute to Andalusia in Southern Spain. De Falla incorporates elements of seguidilla rhythm, guitar strumming, and he even manages to emulate the microtonal inflections of the flamenco singer by drawing overtones from dissonant intervals. 

De Solaun’s approach of the piece was symphonic, layering the textures as distinct instruments. While certain passages may have been too fast to clearly project the energy of each note in the gallery acoustic, de Solaun filled the space with resonant sound, and presented an ardent, beautifully crafted rendition of this fantasy. 

Schumann composed his Arabeske when he was 29 years old and yet to be united with the young Clara Wieck. De Solaun captured Schumann’s youthful yearning with gentle expression. Particularly gripping were the alternations of poetic elegance with declamatory exuberance. 

Granados’s Allegro de Concierto enabled de Solaun to demonstrate his technical prowess, while Valses Poéticos provided him with the space to transport the listener to a 19th-century salon with genuine musical sensitivity and detailed attention towards the inflection of the pulse. 

The last waltz blended into Chopin’s B Major Nocturne as the sonority of the opening arpeggio enveloped the first note of the melody. With minimal finger movement, de Solaun fluctuated on the keys gracefully. 

Closing the evening was Chopin’s Ballade No. 4, which proved a musical and technical tour de force. The introduction was airy and fleeting in de Solaun’s hands, as he did not dwell unduly on the first theme. Due to the tempo choices, there were a few technical lapses but these were overshadowed by the pianist’s stormy outbursts and inward pianissimo playing.   

De Solaun’s piano playing reflects an individual voice without ever losing respect for the score. Despite his somewhat shy demeanor, his performances exude passion, confidence, and an eagerness to share the music. 

The Miami International Piano Festival Academy continues with Kemal Gekic performing Bach and Liszt 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Adolfo and Marisela Cotilla Gallery at NIova Southeastern University.


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Sat Jul 22, 2017
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