Khamis/Houston, National Gallery, review: Promising young pianists tackle Granados's 'Los Goyescas'

The National Gallery puts on fifteen free classical concerts like this each year, usually themed to tie in with exhibitions

Michael Church
Sunday 10 January 2016 17:16
Joseph Houston
Joseph Houston

Free classical concerts in churches and galleries – often of a very high standard – are one of the pleasures of London life.

The National Gallery – where Dame Myra Hess played throughout the Blitz to keep up Londoners’ spirits – puts on fifteen of these each year, usually themed to tie in with exhibitions. And thus it was that the current show of Goya’s portraits got its musical complement in the form of a performance of Granados’s Los Goyescas, the great piano cycle which was inspired by them.

Meanwhile this is the time of year when the Park Lane Group brings out its new young talents, and since its usual venue, the Purcell Room, is currently closed, this recital came to the National Gallery, with Gamal Khamis playing Book 1 and Joseph Houston Book 2.

Gamal Khamis

Both books are entitled ‘Los majos enamorados’ – ‘young men in love’ – and that was the spirit in which they came across, though Houston dealt more cleverly than Khamis did with an acoustic so ‘wet’ that a sustaining pedal is hardly needed. Khamis brought out persuasively the languid charm of ‘Los requiebros’ and the whip-like virtuosity of the ‘Fandango’, while Houston delicately shaded the dark sonorities of ‘El amor y la muerte’ and the ‘Serenata del espectro’.

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