From Spain to the East Coast

Lorelle McNaughton.

Lorelle McNaughton.

THE PIANIST: Of Scottish and Maori-Chinese descent, New Zealand pianist Lorelle McNaughton returned this week from Barcelona, where she specialises in Spanish music and will perform in Gisborne on December 16. Picture supplied

Iberia by Spanish pianist Isaac Albeniz is said to be one of the most difficult pieces ever written for the piano — but New Zealand musician Lorelle McNaughton’s performance of the work earned her 98 percent for her Masters recital at the Sydney Conservatorium.

A handful of scholarships took her to Spain where the New Zealander of Scottish and Maori-Chinese descent was awarded the prize for best performance of Spanish Music at the International Barcelona Piano Academy. Now based in Barcelona, where she studies and teaches at the Academia Marshall, McNaughton returned to New Zealand this week and on Sunday performs at arts patron Professor Jack Richards’ home.

McNaughton was a sixth or seventh form school student when she developed a passion for Spanish music. An aunt had sent her a selection of pieces to choose from for a music exam.

“I heard this piece by Albeniz and fell in love with it.”

After leaving school, Auckland University piano teacher Natalia Ricci gave McNaughton Albeniz’s Iberia to tackle.

“Natalia was taken by the flair I brought to piano because you need flair to play these pieces. She encouraged me to play more.”

The flair factor in Spanish music has a lot to do with Spanish composers Albeniz, Enrique Granados, and Manuel de Falla. At the turn of the 20th century they included many folk idioms in their compositions from which evolved a typically nationalist Spanish style. The three men had been taught by Spanish composer, guitarist and musicologist Felip Pedrell Sabaté.

“They basically incorporated the sounds of flamenco with cajon (box drum), guitar and singers.”

McNaughton imitates over the phone the imploring wail of the flamenco singer.

“Spanish composers such as Albeniz would imitate the sound of footwork and clapping of hands in their works. It’s very passionate. They put their heart and soul into it. There’s a certain vibrato and rhythmic stability that is particular to Spanish music. You really need to have an understanding of the culture to play it.”

Because the guitar plays a significant part in Spanish music many Albeniz, Granados, and de Falla compositions have been transcibed for the instrument.

For her Sunday performance in Gisborne, New Zealand compositions dominate the first half of McNaughton’s programme. Among them are Eve de Castro-Robinson’s This Liquid Drift of Light, and Ross Harris’s Nga Manu; six songs of birds.

The title for the moody and sparkling meditation This Liquid Drift of Light comes from Denys Trussell’s poem Spring Drift Kawhia. Set around the shallow tidal harbour of Kawhia the phrase that inspired Castro-Robinson came from the lines:

Now hills half-stripped

of gods rim this liquid

drift of light, and

the sea-eye flashes

mosaic beneath a nest of cliffs

startling the shag

in its pine-black tower.

“There is a romantic vision of a composer that doesn’t often happen,” the composer told Sounz.

“I put my hands on the piano and this music came into being.”

Harris’s work Nga Manu is made up of a series of motifs and opens in a similar mood with Tahi: sitting on the eggs. Rua: Hatching of the eggs, follows, then Toru: chicks feeding furiously (in bursts); Wha: fledglings getting a grip on things; Rima: flying away — stumbling — into the wide world, and Ono: The runt of the family struggles to get away.

Another New Zealand work, Gareth Farr’s elegiac The Horizon from Owhiro Bay also features in the programme.

The second half of the programme features works by 19th century Polish composer Frederic Chopin and Spanish pianists. Compositions by the latter include two Spanish dances from Danzas Españolas, Op.37 by Granados, and Cuatro Piezas Españolas (Four Spanish Pieces) by de Falla.

Piano recital by Lorelle McNaughton. Tiromoana, 41 Winifred Street, Sunday (2.30pm). Adults $25, students/children free. To book seats call 863 0027 or 021 140 5069.

Iberia by Spanish pianist Isaac Albeniz is said to be one of the most difficult pieces ever written for the piano — but New Zealand musician Lorelle McNaughton’s performance of the work earned her 98 percent for her Masters recital at the Sydney Conservatorium.

A handful of scholarships took her to Spain where the New Zealander of Scottish and Maori-Chinese descent was awarded the prize for best performance of Spanish Music at the International Barcelona Piano Academy. Now based in Barcelona, where she studies and teaches at the Academia Marshall, McNaughton returned to New Zealand this week and on Sunday performs at arts patron Professor Jack Richards’ home.

McNaughton was a sixth or seventh form school student when she developed a passion for Spanish music. An aunt had sent her a selection of pieces to choose from for a music exam.

“I heard this piece by Albeniz and fell in love with it.”

After leaving school, Auckland University piano teacher Natalia Ricci gave McNaughton Albeniz’s Iberia to tackle.

“Natalia was taken by the flair I brought to piano because you need flair to play these pieces. She encouraged me to play more.”

The flair factor in Spanish music has a lot to do with Spanish composers Albeniz, Enrique Granados, and Manuel de Falla. At the turn of the 20th century they included many folk idioms in their compositions from which evolved a typically nationalist Spanish style. The three men had been taught by Spanish composer, guitarist and musicologist Felip Pedrell Sabaté.

“They basically incorporated the sounds of flamenco with cajon (box drum), guitar and singers.”

McNaughton imitates over the phone the imploring wail of the flamenco singer.

“Spanish composers such as Albeniz would imitate the sound of footwork and clapping of hands in their works. It’s very passionate. They put their heart and soul into it. There’s a certain vibrato and rhythmic stability that is particular to Spanish music. You really need to have an understanding of the culture to play it.”

Because the guitar plays a significant part in Spanish music many Albeniz, Granados, and de Falla compositions have been transcibed for the instrument.

For her Sunday performance in Gisborne, New Zealand compositions dominate the first half of McNaughton’s programme. Among them are Eve de Castro-Robinson’s This Liquid Drift of Light, and Ross Harris’s Nga Manu; six songs of birds.

The title for the moody and sparkling meditation This Liquid Drift of Light comes from Denys Trussell’s poem Spring Drift Kawhia. Set around the shallow tidal harbour of Kawhia the phrase that inspired Castro-Robinson came from the lines:

Now hills half-stripped

of gods rim this liquid

drift of light, and

the sea-eye flashes

mosaic beneath a nest of cliffs

startling the shag

in its pine-black tower.

“There is a romantic vision of a composer that doesn’t often happen,” the composer told Sounz.

“I put my hands on the piano and this music came into being.”

Harris’s work Nga Manu is made up of a series of motifs and opens in a similar mood with Tahi: sitting on the eggs. Rua: Hatching of the eggs, follows, then Toru: chicks feeding furiously (in bursts); Wha: fledglings getting a grip on things; Rima: flying away — stumbling — into the wide world, and Ono: The runt of the family struggles to get away.

Another New Zealand work, Gareth Farr’s elegiac The Horizon from Owhiro Bay also features in the programme.

The second half of the programme features works by 19th century Polish composer Frederic Chopin and Spanish pianists. Compositions by the latter include two Spanish dances from Danzas Españolas, Op.37 by Granados, and Cuatro Piezas Españolas (Four Spanish Pieces) by de Falla.

Piano recital by Lorelle McNaughton. Tiromoana, 41 Winifred Street, Sunday (2.30pm). Adults $25, students/children free. To book seats call 863 0027 or 021 140 5069.

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