The Italian pianist Stefano Bollani and the Brazilian bandolinist Hamilton de Holanda joined forces for a performance at the City Recital on Friday 5 June. They had the first performed together in concert in 2007 and released the acclaimed album “O Que Sera” in 2013.
Bollani’s horizons know few boundaries. He is primarily a jazz pianist but at times wanders into the classical arena – perhaps with a lullaby or an improvisation on a classic (his recording of Poulanc’s “En La Mineur” is an example). He has been described as a “genre hopper” which perhaps unfairly diverts recognition away from the extraordinary breadth of his musicality.
Hamilton de Holanda was responsible for expanding the scope of his instrument (very similar to a mandolin) by increasing it from eight to ten strings and his music covers the gambit of older Brazilian choros and sambas through to the more modern bossas.
The program matched the players’ versatility. Some pieces were from the salons of the 19th century Brazil, often played to de Holanda’s lilting accompaniment. The popular bossa writer Caetano Veloso was represented and I thought I’d identified a tango only for Stefano to declare it was “an old Italian song”! The audience was delighted with Stefano’s over the top singing of a soggy pop song and eventually the tango did arrive during a generous encore in the form of Piazzola’s “Oblivion”.
Added musical colour was provided by Stefano’s ad-hoc microphone percussion tricks – shaking a half full bottle of water, crumpling a piece of paper, thumping the piano frame or gently tapping his forehead. There was little need for the piano stool – kneeling or standing was ok for the energetic Mr Bollani.
Robert Vale – presents Jazz Sketches each Wednesdays at 12 noon on Fine Music 102.5
For information on Fine Music 102.5 Jazz programs click here.