Bossa Tango: Latin American Piano Recital

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this recital. From the photo of a smartly dressed Johan in a tie and hat I thought 4pm might be a little early for such a formal do.

The audience craned their necks to see how he could play such a wide range of notes with one hand.

Johan walked in wearing said hat, but immediately took it off, leaving it on the piano for the whole performance. Once we knew he was the man in the hat of the photo, Johan had a few surprises in store. He began with chimes to introduce the first piece, his own virtuoso arrangement for left hand. The audience craned their necks to see how he could play such a wide range of notes with one hand.

The programme included ten composers. Johan did a fine job of introducing lesser-known pieces, including his own composition Waltz for Carlos. Even classic titles, such as Gerschwin’s The Man I Love and Jobim’s Wave were spiced up in Johan’s own arrangements. Johan not only used chimes, but also a melodica. Unfortunately the melodica, once discarded along with the hat, caused some unpleasant sympathetic vibrations, buzzing noisily during a few low notes Johan played on the piano. However, he bravely played on, demoting the melodica to the floor soon afterwards, fixing the problem.

Solare’s A Rolete was the first piece to get the audience swaying, and through much of the performance smiles and tapping fingers could be seen. A less formal affair, with some dancing, would have been ideal, and may have suited Johan better too. He often turned to the audience (seated behind him) to flash a cheeky smile, or introduce a song. He played tricks with us, once extending a pause then, after a smile, playing the final chord. One piece had such a playful ending that we were coerced into clapping before the end, a definite audience faux pas, which we couldn’t help feeling Johan enjoyed.

Johan is South-West African born, and has played extensively in South Africa, the U.S.A and England. I’m sure his music career will continue to flourish, and his personal and musical charisma will keep on attracting viewers and listeners.

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Brighton-based pianist, Johan de Cock, returns to Brighton Fringe with an exciting new programme of Latin American milongas, tangos, waltzes, bossa novas and other dances. The concert, which will last about an hour, includes popular works by Carlos Gardel, Astor Piazzolla, Ernesto Nazareth, Heitor Villa-Lobos and Antonio Carlos Jobim, as well as new works by Juan María Solare and R.A. Moulds.

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