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Hiromi and Edmar Castañeda: Live in Montreal review – impish pianist and harp player bring the noise

Dramatic and swinging … Hiromi and Edmar Castañeda.
Dramatic and swinging … Hiromi and Edmar Castañeda.

A clip of the pianist Hiromi performing a solo version of Gershwin’s I Got Rhythm at this year’s Proms recently went viral and showcased an impish talent: a miniature Japanese hybrid of Oscar Peterson and Franz Liszt who can race through grand chromatic flourishes, negotiate dainty modal solos and swing like the clappers – usually all at once. This live album pairs her with Colombian harp player Edmar Castañeda, who spends the session pretending he’s not actually playing the harp. For Jaco sees him apeing Jaco Pastorius; a dramatic take on Astor Piazzolla’s Libertango has him imitating a wheezing bandoneon; on an enjoyably daft version of the Cantina Band theme from Star Wars, he starts like a ragtime guitarist and ends like a kora player. Hiromi is utterly compelling when it comes to showboating extroversion but the centrepiece of this set – a four-part suite called The Elements – suggests that she has little to say as a composer.

This article titled "Hiromi and Edmar Castañeda: Live in Montreal review – impish pianist and harp player bring the noise" was written by John Lewis, for The Guardian on Thursday 12 October 2017 05.00pm

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