Ernán López-Nussa Trio
Friday, 12 August 2011 at 8pm • Chris Church Cathedral

Performers Ernán López-Nussa Steinway piano, Enrique Plá drums, and Gastón Joya bass

Reviewer John Jane

Cuban pianist Ernán López-Nussa obviously enjoys performing in Vancouver and Vancouver concert-goers love having him here. This is his fourth appearance at MusicFest Vancouver (twice under its former name Festival Vancouver).

When Radio Canada’s Monique Polloni introduced Lopez-Nussa’s motif as Afro-Cuban with classical traditions, she also mentioned that he, Enrique Plá and Gastón Joya will be playing together for the first time. If that is in fact true, the threesome certainly developed a remarkable synergy. This Central-American piano trio provided enjoyment for both lovers of classical music and fans of jazz, integrating both genres in a potent blend.

The concert programme advertized the concert title as Sacrilegio (Sacrilege). It also stated “Selections to be announced” – However, López-Nussa is not particularly good at introducing his music - he may feel that titles aren’t that important. Nonetheless, I recognized the opening piece as Rumba Para Zapateo y Haydn, which López-Nussa started playing in straight classical style on piano, quickly intensifying into an infectious Latin rhythm. The musical transition underscored some stellar solo work on the bass.

Perhaps easier to recognize was López-Nussa’s transposed interpretation of Beethoven’s Sonata Pathetique; a musical hybrid that showed power and artistry starting with a slow adagio, then luminously rising and falling.

López-Nussa is a captivating performer and arranger, though none of the compositions are totally his. Just the same, this talented musician and his friends from Havana gave an immensely satisfying show, winning over not only those who have seen him before, but also those experiencing his special brand of music for the first time.

© 2011 John Jane