Photos Courtesy: Cano Smit

Silicon Valley, CA-- Music is an integral part of our lives and the way that we listen to it, when played, cause us to react. Sometimes, its sounds bother us. Other times, its sounds delight us, but there are a few times when its sounds are capable to transport us to a different dimension, and even move our inner core.

One of the  few concert pianists who has been recognized in the concert world for the feeling  he conveys in his piano interpretations, is Spanish/Dutch  Albert Cano Smit, who performed in San José, on February 11, in a LIVE and LVESTREAM Concert sponsored by the Steinway Society THE BAY AREA.

Cano Smit's concert gave his audience a broad range of musical Genres, starting with the Romantic Period, represented by the music of Brahms (1833-1897) and ending with the 19the Century composition of French composer, organist and ornithologist Olivier Messiaen (l908-l992) whose broad repertoire ranges from Chamber Assembles, to electronic music with rhythm complexity with many of his intervals, inspired by his interest for ornithology, trying to imitate the chirping of birds.

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Cano Smit began his concert with Brahms -6 Klavierstüke Op.118, Brahms 'most well-known opus, (set of compositions for piano) the richest in content and meaning and probably the most varied. The work has six movements: Intermezzo in A Minor, Intermezzo in A Major, and Ballad in G minor, Intermezzo in F minor, Romance in F Major and Intermezzo in Eb minor.

Brahms wrote the set of pieces in l893, and dedicated them to Clara Schumann, (Who Brahms was rumored to be in love with). Musicologists consider the work  a very intense piece of music because, to play it properly, requires not only an excellent  piano technique from the pianist, but his ability to interpret each one. because  the pieces represent a variety of  moods. Brahms expressed each mood, in each of its different movement. The pieces have been compared by musicologists to be a microcosm of Brahms emotional world,

In the First Intermezzo, (in A minor) for instance, the Tempo is marked "Allegro, Passionato" which means play fast, but not too fast, and full of emotion, and in the writing, the piece is dramatic, erupting in emotions, growing in intensity, and ending in A major, maybe to simplify the musical transition to the second intermezzo.

The tempo in the second Intermezzo in A Major. Considered the most famous of the pieces, it is also the most often played by pianists. Its tempo is marked (Andante teneramente) which means it requires to be played with tenderness. Since written, it has been perceived as a "secret love letter" from Brahms to Clara Schumann. Maybe it was, because the Intermezzo starts with a lyrical subtle melody, very beautiful and moving. In contrast, the middle section (written in F sharp minor) is canonical in style. But as the piece continues the music begin changing, and again starts conveying yearning, passion, and what may be described as restrained love. It ends in a chordal section, which required the master interpretation that Cano Smit gave it on that night, to be able to convey to the audience and a sense of eternity.

The Ballade in G minor is vigorous, rhythmic and may required virtuosity to play some of its sections. The Fourth Intermezzo in F major Allegretto un poco agitato, is fast, agitated and also contrapuntal. In this piece, all the emotions seem to be suppressed before the end, The music reaches its climax when it moves to the Romance in F major, musically portrayed by two inner voices embedded in a dense contrapuntal texture which move in octaves. A modulation to D major in the central section, brightest the mood.  

The 6 Klavierstüke Op 118, ends with another Intermezzo,  this one en  Eb minor marked Andante largo Moderato, which means it requires to be played at a very slow  moderate walking speed. In its sound, the piece is haunting, and the sense of death, particularly in the first section, is felt during the whole piece.  The piece starts in a brooding mood with the so called Dies irae motif "A Death Motif" from the Gregorian chant, which is a dark tune that has been used to represent death, in classical music for more than 100 years. The motif appears repeatedly in the first section of the piece. As it enters the second section, however, it takes a heroic character and it transforms into a solemn march. The emotions continue to culminate, until the reappearances of the death motif (people interpret its re-appearance as a fearless hero who is persevering as he faces death) yet, when the hero appears to be triumphing, the death motif reappears again, telling us that death, for him, is inevitable. The motif repeats with a surge in intensity as if to portray the hero's agony. After that, the music fades out, in a somber arpeggio in E Flat minor.

In selecting this piece to start his concert, Cano Smit was able to demonstrate to his audience not only his technique as a concert pianist, but also his ability to interpret and be able to convey to his audience, every one of the Klavierstüke' s moods. After being able to feel every one of his interpretations. We could say that his performance of Brahms pieces was superb.  

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The next piece in the program was Mozart Piano Sonata in C minor K, 457, in three movements: Molto Allegro, Adagio and Allegro Assai (to be played at a very fast tempo) which is one of the only two Sonatas that Mozart wrote in the minor key. 

Mozart's richness in sounds of his Sonata, interpreted in the sonorous timbre of a Steinway Grand piano and played with the accurate digitalization by Cano Smit's fingers, allowed the audience to listen to every single note. In its three movements, the written notes, transformed into sounds by Cano Smit's fingers pressing the keys on the keyboard, fast but gently, like drops of water falling on the grass, produced loud, soft, slow or fast but always expressive sounds, different in speed or volume, but never altering the fluidly of the tones. even during hands crossing. For the pianist, we could say that his was an excellent rendition of Mozart.

And from Mozart (1756-1791) and from Austria, the audience was transported to Spain and the music composed by Isaac Albeniz (1860-1909) a famous Spanish piano prodigy, whose fame rests chiefly in his piano compositions in which he utilizes the rhythms and harmonies of the Famenco (Spanish Gypsies) music. In his program, Cano Smit included:  Evocacion in Ab major and Ab minor (Evocation) and El Puerto in Db major.(The Port)

In the shuttle but dripped in sadness music of Evocacion, Cano Smit's interpretation , made us feel the inner longings of the Flamenco gypsies, their desperation, and, maybe, their inner pain from his very first notes of a longing-sounding melody. In contrast, while playing El Puerto, our mood changed completely: This time the sound of Albeniz' s music brought to our minds the same images of gypsies, but happy. Women and men dancing around the camp fire at night, tapping their feet, the women spinning their skirts around their bodies, their arms over their heads and their hands playing their castanets. And in both pieces, we were moved.
We also reacted to Cano Smit next piece: "The Kiss of the infant Jesus by Messiaen, but in a different way. In our case, Iistening to the piece for the first time, as the music moved slowly, made three pauses and then repeats, listening to the piano sounds, we imagine church bells, bells tolling, accompanied by the chirping of birds of the birds at the end.

And the concert ended masterfully with Danzas Argentinas de Alberto Ginastera ( 1916-1983) from where we could hear two of them: Danzas de la Vieja Voyera, in which we could recognize the tango rhythm among the rolling chords in the background,  and the Danza de la moza Donaosa, where the music is rhythmic, wild, loud, fast, vital, and was beautifully interpreted by Albert Cano Smit. The concert ended with a Bach encore.


Cultural World bilingual will end this review by stating that, in our opinion, Albert Cano Smit gave us a masterful piano concert, but that it was so technical, that perhaps only those who are familiar with playing the piano, were able to fully understand the technique that was required to play it. .