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¡Ole! Peak Music audience spellbound by Katona Twins’ Spanish Night

The Katona Twins, Péter and Zoltán, delivered a bravura performance at the Cavendish Hall for the Peak Music Society on 7th November. The sheer range of their technique was dazzling and the programme for their Spanish night gave full rein to its expression. It was a real eye-opener for those unfamiliar with the classical guitar repertoire, often thought of as wistful and introspective, even melancholic. Not so on this occasion! The rhythm of flamenco music is traditionally enhanced by palmeros (or hand clappers) and if you shut your eyes, you could be forgiven for thinking the twins were accompanied by a full range of palmero percussionists complete with castanets, cajons, and tabors. The sheer dynamic range from their two guitars and the vibrato they could achieve was to say the least impressive. Péter and Zoltan are identical twins, which maybe accounts for their perfect synchronism, melodies flowing seamlessly between them as if from a single performer.

Most of the pieces in the programme had been skillfully arranged for two guitars by Péter, with a couple that included his own augmentations. A couple of sonata movements from Scarlatti segued into a ‘metamorphosis’ propelling the composer three hundred years forward into the rock era. Péter was inspired to writeTárrega for Two while listening to pupils playing pieces by Francisco Tárrega, when he began hearing complementary melodies in his ‘inner ear’. A phrase from Tárrega’s Gran Vals had been the inspiration for Nokia’s infamous ring tone, and this ‘earworm’ was made much of in an amusing counterpoint, starting with the electronic version so often played before concerts and theatrical performances to remind the audience to silence their phones.

Two other mesmerising favourites from the repertoire were Mallorca and Asturias by Isaac Albéniz, the Spanish Mozart. A child prodigy at the age of four, and concert performer by the age of nine, a myth arose that he stowed away on a steamer to South America at the age of twelve, paying for his passage when discovered by playing and washing the dishes! In fact, he did travel worldwide but with his father, who as a customs agent was required to travel frequently. Many of his piano compositions were transcribed for guitar by Tárrega.

The recital started and ended with pieces from Manuel de Falla, the Ritual Fire Dance (which you can listen to in the video above) providing a suitably dramatic end to the evening before the delighted audience were treated to an encore of Eleanor Rigby (born in Hungary and brought up in Germany, the Katonas now live in Liverpool).

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