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  Nr. 72 - July 2004
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Lloyd Arriola & Barrett Cobb Concert Reviews

by Jeffrey Carson
A Review by Jeffrey Carson of:
Lloyd Arriola, piano,
June 20, 2004
at Archilochos Hall

Summer on Paros, thank the Muses, continues to attract musicians of the highest calibre. They are, of course, attracted by our island's beauty, but also by the small but knowledgeable and grateful audience. No doubt good classical music makes the Parian summer even more light-filled.

Lloyd Arriola, a New York pianist, is a romantic. The modern piano is the quintessential romantic instrument, and composers from Beethoven to Chopin to Liszt to the Early Moderns have made it their chief solo instrument, to express their deepest thoughts and most passionate emotions. Mr. Arriola, whose virtuoso technique easily takes in the whole repertory, in the first concert of four, played his pieces with profound feeling, and showed off his skill only when the music called for it.

The first piece was an "Etude" by Felix Blumenfeld (1863-1931), previously unknown to me, whose greatest claim to fame was that he taught Vladimir Horowitz piano. Mr. Arriola walked up to the piano and struck the thick first chord with hardly a preparatory breath, and this precipitous attack alerted the audience to the evening's romantic fire.

Beethoven's much-loved "Moonlight Sonata" followed. A top quality pianist can play its varied three movements - the first spectrally lunar, the second a dance, the third an explosion - as if the familiar score were hot from the presses; Mr. Arriola had the audience breathless with expectation. Passion united to clarity of structure made this performance memorable.

In some ways Schumann is the most romantic of composers, usually best shown in his often eccentric piano pieces. His "Arabesque" was here properly all fleet filigree. And the ensuing Brahms "Rhapsody in G Minor" was all heavy power.

After an intermission Mr. Arriola played Chopin's Polonaise-Fantasie, as if it were all flowing melody, concealing with delight, as Chopin did, careful structure and virtuosity.

The last work thundered mightily; this was Liszt's "Grosses Konzertsolo". Liszt can sometimes sound hollow, but if the pianist can give a sense that the piece - with all its mood swings, fulminations, skill, recollections, and sweetness - is being improvised by the master himself as it doubtless first was, then it can lift you from your seat. Mr. Arriola indeed did make it sound like a new demonic Lisztian emanation, and we were all impressed, moved, and astonished.

For an encore, Mr. Arriola played his robustly two-handed version of Gershwin's "Someone to Watch Over Me", and when the audience would not let him go, he improvised on Errol Garner's "Misty".

We hear he is thinking of returning next year. Line up now for tickets.

A Review by Jeffrey Carson of:
Barrett Cobb, flute, and Lloyd Arriola, piano
June 22, 2004
at the Agnanti Hotel

We on Paros are greedily accustomed to hearing Barrett Cobb perform as a mezzo-soprano, but she rarely graces us with a flute concert, although she has had a long and varied career as a flutist. She made up for the lack with a splendid concert at the all-white conference room of Krios's luxurious Agnanti Hotel, whose new piano and gracious reception indicate a laudable willingness to support cultural events.

Barrett's accompanist for the evening was pianist Lloyd Arriola, a colleague from New York. His sensitive playing brought out the best in Barrett, and Barrett's best is indeed something to behold. For this recital gave us a musical evening of the highest calibre, full of delight and skill. Flutists are often clean and fleet, but not often full of charm; this essential quality cannot be practiced - it is innate.

The programme began with melodic Mozart's "Flute Concerto in D Major". Mozart, probably piqued by shrill performance, is reputed to have said that the one thing he disliked more than the flute was two flutes, and we are all admirers of his opera "Die Zauberklarinette".

Debussy's "Syrinx", that followed, is one of those pieces you might think you have heard too often. But when you hear its evanescent, wistful tune of disappointed desire, you realize you haven't. The flute was a favourite with French composers born in the 19th century; Debussy advanced the tradition and in doing so invented Modernism. The evening continued with more voluptuous impressionism, in "R?verie et Valse" by Andr? Caplet, Debussy's contemporary.

The intoxication lasted into the intermission on the Agnanti's terrace, when the night air, limpid constellations, and lights of Paroikia across the bay seemed a continuation of the music.

The second half began with a sonata by Handel. As so often with this practical genius, the score is skeletal - though infinitely skillful - and the performers are expected to embellish and improvise. Because soloist and accompanist were so responsive to each other, they took some chances and left us breathless with admiration.

Bernhard Molique (1802-1869), whom I have previously heard only as a composer for concertina, was German, but his delicacy often sounds French as his name. The beautiful melody of his "Andante" prepared us for the two pieces to follow, Godard's insinuating "Allegretto" and Faur?'s "Fantasie". The latter, though an 1898 competition piece for the Paris Conservatory, does not sound academic. Faur?, because he is neither innovative nor German, is by my lights an underrated composer. Musicians like to play him, and Barrett showed us why: clear structure, logical counterpoint, and rich melody.

This was surely one of the best evenings of music we have ever had on Paros. And the encore, Saint-Saens' "Dying Swan", sent us gliding home across the still bay.
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