Review Reutlingen, 24th March 2011

The orchestra and Bettina Castaño

8-minute clip on You Tube:

www.youtube.com/watch

Concert Creation: Flamenco with the Württemberg Philharmonic and Bettina Castaño at the Listhalle.

Seductive Body Music

REUTLINGEN: Flamenco, the epitome of Spain, Andalucia, music and dance

The Basel conductor and composer Thomas Herzog is a specialist for Spanish music. The genius Isaac Albéniz can be seen as the creator of a new Spanish national music, he was born in 1860 in Catalonia and died in 1909 in Paris. Most of the works were created by him, among others, a series of German debut performances. This music above all, was made for Bettina Castaño, who comes from the flamenco mecca, the Andalucian metropolis Sevilla.

Isaac Albéniz declared his love to his home many times among other things, with the burlesque Orchestra rhapsodie 'Catalonia'. As the prelude, it could have been somewhat more full of tension and joyful. However, the orchestra was clearly very prepared for what followed. In a flesh-coloured satin dress, Bettina Castaño floated onto the stage, to the toccata-style tones of the 'Asturias (leyenda)', the first of three parts of the 'suite esopañola', originally composed for the piano by the master Albénioz. After ' Cataluña' she appeared again, this time in bright red, and to 'Córdoba', on the somewhat thin stretch of stage in front of the orchestra. They were by no means distracted by her, but seemed more in the moment and full of suspense than is usual in normal orchestral performances

Bettina Castaño's flamenco is an unbelievable mixture of expressive dance, choreographed drama, artistic movement, and body percussion. It isn't just the castanettes with which she creates sounds – classic tapdance seems like an OAP hobby against the slamming, stamping rhythm of her steps. She claps too, and taps and swishes with a fan, whooses and scratches with the studded shoes under her ever-changing and exciting dresses – sometimes with a long train, sometimes with tassles, sometimes with frills.

 

Bettina Castaño's performance fulfilled and outdid every cliche of racy temperament, hot- blooded persuasiveness and enchanting elegance. Raceyness erupted almost volcanically in the jealous fire dance from a ballett by Manuel de Falla. However, she is able to express an art form with smooth charm which comes somewhere between rhythm and fire – pure body music. One example of this was in the soloist performance – Fandango by Amadeo Vives and a Zarzuela interlude by Gerónimo Giménez – both of whom are younger contemporaries and stylistic descendants of the impressive Albéniz. The music on the other hand – plastic, but sometimes somewhat babbling in a loungey style - despite many pretty instrumental passages was only able to seem a little less dull. But the long applause was also for the orchestra and the conductor as well as the firey flamenco dancer. (mab)

"Sensing the music frees the dancing muse."

Bettina Castaño