May 8, 2021. DeLis Duo performs the works of R. Schumann, N. Boulanger, A. Piazzola and D. Llorens i Guillaumes at the “SiFaSol” Music School in Barcelona. They establish a dialogue between ACOUHYB (a piano tuned in such a way that if you press the left pedal, it changes the tuning) and a cello in the beautiful premiere of the work Reflexions (Reflections), by David Llorens i Guillaumes, composed specifically for this timbre.

Irina was the first to know Sergey. He told her about the Crazy Piano project and she became interested. It has been a year and a half since they started planning for the concert, which was to take place before the pandemic. It was postponed. And yet, at the last minute, they had to postpone it for another month…

The DeLis Duo is made up of the cellist Irma Bau and the pianist Irina Veselova. They met in 2017, at a masterclass given by Peter Brus in Barcelona. Irina was the accompanying pianist, and Irma performed Cesar Frank's Sonata. After the masterclasses, Irina called Irma and told her that she had always wanted to play Frank's Sonata and hadn't had the chance. She asked her to rehearse it, to do some concerts... They met and got along right away. They soon had their first concert as a duo and won the second prize in the International Competition of Les Corts in Barcelona, and the first prize was given to “Josep Mirabent” for his performance of “Magrans a Sitges”. This pushed them to organize more concerts, activities... They got along very well and ended up being friends. After four years, they still wish to start more projects.

The ACOUHYB concert was quite a challenge for them. David Llorens i Guillaumes (to whom we will dedicate an article later) had been sending them the piece bit by bit, as he composed it. Even before the confinement, they met to clarify doubts about the piece. "For me, it's been quite an easy and nice job," he told me when I asked him.

We talked about the process of composing Reflexions. It is the second piece composed specifically for the timbre of the Crazy Piano. In the first one, Homenatges enigma (that was not for a hybrid piano but for a piano only "Crazy") had tested how different composers would look with the new sound. In Reflexions, I already wanted to do something more personal, and try the harmonies that would look good, now with a hybrid piano. The subtitle, however, remains Enigmes 2. Sergey gave him absolute freedom, and got him in touch with Irina: "If the piece is too long, we'll do more concerts."

Reflexions consists of four movements. The first one is the introduction of the acoustic hybrid piano, and there all the themes that will be developed in the other movements appear. “I didn't think that part would last so long, and I couldn't find a way to get the cello in. In the end, I did it the rough way”; thus the second movement begins." The Crazy "timbre goes well with slow melodies, open harmonies... But I also wanted something more hardcore." So let's go to the third movement, called "Dispute", in which the piano ends up leaving suddenly, as the cello had entered. The "Epilogue" compensates the cello for the silence of the first movement; if the piano had shined in the beginning, all the cello techniques are used here: pizzicato, glissando, harmonicas, sul ponte, col legno…

They had to meet Irma to test if the hard parts of the cello were working. With the Crazy Pedal, however, they could not rehearse until the day before the concert. David Llorens i Guillaumes had not written in the play where he wanted the crazy timbre “I don't have it at home and I couldn't try it, moreover, this is part of the color that the performer wants to give it -he says-, I imagined myself in the role of the ancient composers who composed for organ or key, and let the artist decide to register. ”

Even though they had talked about it before confinement, they couldn’t finish suiting it until they had the acoustic hybrid piano in front of them. "It was a bit stressful for me -explains Irina - the concept of the new piano, to understand how it worked… In such a short time!"

The sound and power of acoustic hybrid piano are very different. Besides, this timbre has not yet been used much with other instruments. The cello finds it difficult to find the tuning. Irma finds it strange: “The problem with tuning with the Crazy Piano is that it doesn't just sound like a note; each note has several tuning centers. It's hard to find the right note."

Due to a lack of time, the DeLis Duo did not risk playing pieces by other composers, not made for this timbre. I asked them if they could associate a word with the sound of this timbre: "It's like memories of the past... melancholy, nostalgia…".

In the end, they were happy with the result and how the experience went. They agreed that "it was a great experience to premiere a work like this and with such an exclusive and innovative piano." David also praises the result: “When a composer listens to a work of his performed for the first time, it is normal that he is not completely satisfied. This is what the composers talk about among us, but no one dares to say it in public -he pauses-. Well, I do. You have your idea, a tempo, an expressiveness... in your head, but of course, the performers have to give you theirs, which is not yours. And you never leave the premiere completely happy. In this case, it has been different. ”

Perhaps because, when the play premiered after so long, “I didn't remember it much anymore; in between, I had written other works. It’s what often happens when you listen to the recording of the piece that at the time hadn’t satisfied you, and you like it.” Very much.

"Apart from that, the rehearsals went very well. At the premiere... there are usually nerves. But I was very relaxed in the sense that I had a lot of confidence in the performers. They had to be excellent in it. I knew the result it would give -he remained pensive-, well, yes, I had nerves. I was a little unbearable, my family knows that. But I trusted the performers a lot, and I'm very happy with how everything went. ”

The DeLis Duo want to introduce the Crazy Ring and try it with more pieces when they have more time to rehearse. They think that Nadia Boulanger's pieces would look good. Or Tchaikovsky, said Irina, if I had to play the piano alone. In any case, “we are eager to keep trying. Let's see if we have more opportunities to enjoy it! It is worth it." It is worth it.

Nadja Bas

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