Versatile Colombian duo in a class of their own

REVIEW / CONCERT

PORTRAITS OF COLOMBIA

Duo Orduz-Garcia

Steven Baxter Recital Studio, NUS

Wednesday

Marc Rochester

Colombian musicians visiting Singapore are a rare phenomenon. Colombian musicians playing Colombian classical music is even rarer. And a Colombian piano/ clarinet duo playing an entire programme of Colombian classical music before a sizeable Singaporean audience is pretty well unpre- cedented. The first thing to say about the Duo Orduz-Garcia - pianist Ana Maria Orduz and clarinettist Jose Garcia-Taborda - is that, regardless of the music they play, they provide a wonderful evening's entertainment.

Introducing each piece with a charming and informative anecdote or two, they make it very clear that, as a duo partnership, they go back a long way.

There is an instinctive comradeship between them which results in extraordinarily closely connected playing. When they play a scale, it is as if it is just one instrument; when they indulge in awkward, jerky rhythms, they do so with such total unity of attack that you begin to doubt your ears.

And it was those awkward, jerky rhythms which were at the root of the music they played in this concert. Whether it was the agile Mico Negro by Rafael Velasco, the sorrowful and reflective Adios A Bogota by Luis Calvo or the exuberant Como Pa Desenguayabar (which Garcia-Taborda translated as Chasing Away The Hangover), those amazingly complicated rhythms coursed through every vein of the music.

Organised by the Embassy of Colombia in Singapore, this was clearly a cultural introduction for most of the audience (although one imagines a fair percentage of the Colombian expatriate community was in attendance) and few remained unaffected by music which was not only attractive, but also delivered with enthusiasm and communicative openness.

Duo Orduz-Garcia drew attention to Colombia's geographical position between the Andes and the Caribbean and how that influenced the music of Colombian composers.

They proved the point with a powerful whiff of the Caribbean in Doble Cero by Lucho Bermudez, countered by the unambiguously Latin-American Colombianas 2 by Luis Carlos Figueroa. The European influence was not overlooked either with the waltz-flavoured Candita of Adolfo Meja.

But beyond demonstrating the rich variety of Colombian music, the programme also demonstrated the astonishing versatility of the duo, who seem perfectly able to jump from one style to another with assurance.

The audience was told that the clarinet is popular in Colombia because of its great flexibility. But when it comes to musical flexibility, these two musicians are in a class of their own, irrespective of nationality or musical background.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 16, 2016, with the headline 'Versatile Colombian duo in a class of their own'. Print Edition | Subscribe