Thursday, June 14, 2012

Arabesques: Rocío Màrquez, and Christian Boissel @ Batha

"I wanted a strong piano, lyrical, savage, sometimes at the limit of brutality, but also delicate, sensitive, facetious ... A piano with every nuance, every possibility of the keyboard, the pedals and even beyond that: resonance from inside the instrument, percussion on its outside, strings that are pinched as well as caressed. A whimsical game in which Rocio can also take part." - Christian Boissel

The afternoon programme at the Batha Museum was entitled  Arabesques.  It comprised poems from Diván del Tamarit by Federico García Lorca - interpreted by Rocío Màrquez with Melodies for song and piano by Christian Boissel.

"A piano with every nuance" - Christian Boissel

Christian Boissel set the tone immediately he came on stage. His statement about the piano was, it appeared, to be taken literally. "A piano with every nuance, every possibility of the keyboard, the pedals and even beyond that: resonance from inside the instrument, percussion on its outside, strings that are pinched as well as caressed." And so it was.

Christian leaned into the piano and used the strings as well as the body of the instrument as a percussion instrument. It was not just showmanship, in context, it actually worked. Then, when Rocío Màrquez began to sing, the audience knew they were in for a treat.

Flamenco's rising star Rocío Màrquez

From the opening notes of  Federico García Lorca's Cordoba, she displayed a voice to take note of. It is little wonder she is seen as a rising star in the world of Flamenco. Màrquez took possession of the music and every emotion within it. At times she caressed the words seductively, at others, face pinched as though in agony, she attacked, clenching her fists, her whole body involved in the performance.

Far away, and lonely
Full moon, black pony,
Olives against my saddle.
Though I know all the roadways
I'll never get to Cordoba.

Màrquez has incredible vocal control, holding notes for so long that the audience was gasping for breath in empathy. Very dramatic - even heart rending at times. Poems and whispers:"I am afraid, afraid of death, cold wind, cold heart."

And when it was all over, a standing ovation brought the performers back on stage, and they responded with emotion, the pianist saying with tears in his eyes: "Thank you, we are so touched, we have a lot of emotion about this response, because this is the premiere of this material, the premiere is for Fes."

Maryam Montague (of Maryam in Marrakech) told The View from Fez, "I was really struck by the incredible innovation of the melding of poetry and music. also the mix of languages, the mingling of Spanish and French. The singer is so delicate and graceful, all the small movements of her hands were so evocative, and the pianist was incredible as well. He was crying at the end! So, so beautiful."

On a hot day in Fez - this was a cool way to spend the afternoon.

Federico García Lorca

Proud of the Arab past of his hometown, Granada, Federico García Lorca wrote a collection of poems in the 1930s known as a 'diwan', that paid tribute to the great Arab poets of the past. In this Diván del Tamarit he was largely inspired by such Arab poetic forms as the ghazal and the qassîda, writing his own gacelas and cassidas. Here we find those themes so beloved of Arab poetry: love, the night, gardens, perfumes, Andalusia, Seville, Cordoba and Granada, where the verses of Ib'n Zamrak are forever written on the walls of the Alhambra.

Christian Boissel

Christian Boissel was born in Casablanca under a scorching sun. His Moroccan childhood gave him a taste for modal melodies, compound rhythms and the sensuality of Mediterranean instruments ...
In his compositions can be found traces of classical influences: Erik Satie, Frédéric Chopin, Manuel de Falla, Albéniz, but also a Hindu element, the sacred, the religious of Cante Jondo, part Jewish with such heart-rending lamentations, a Gipsy element, a truly Spanish catalyst', reminders of North Africa, rumours of ancient Greece ..

Rocío Màrquez 

Rocío Màrquez was born in Huelva in Andalusia. Her song celebrates an ancient solemn rite, and these roots give it strength and intensity. Paradoxically, it also has freedom, youth and modernity. It gathers 'the old essences that are sleeping and launches them to the winds' in one cry, but an ornamented cry, a calligraphy of the breath, a sublime vocal arabesque.


Festival Programme
Festival in the City
Sufi Nights
Festival Forums
Festival Eating Guide
Art during the Festival #1
Art during the Festival #2
The Enchanted Gardens of Fez
Last Minute Accommodation

Reporting: Sandy McCutcheon and Vanessa Bonnin
Photographs: Suzanna Clarke, Sandy McCutcheon

The View from Fez is an official Media Partner of the Fès Festival of World Sacred Music


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