Munich Percussion Ensemble adds spice to songs
Times of Oman, October 06, 2012
Muscat: Johann Sebastian Bach probably never imagined that his music would be transformed into an upbeat, fast, drum-based performance, but the Munich Percussion Ensemble did just that as
part of their repertoire during a concert at the Royal Opera House Muscat on Wednesday evening.
The Munich Percussion Ensemble, founded and led by Egyptian conductor Adel Shalaby, brings a variety of percussion instruments to the forefront of classical music and uses them to bring unique interpretations of classical, Arabic, jazz, and other genres of music to their audiences.
In addition to a variety of percussion instruments, including xylophones, gongs, snare drums, and tablas, the ensemble also has pianists, violinists, cellists, bassists, and violists.
In a lively concert at the ROHM the Munich Percussion Ensemble showcased the dynamism and diversity of the percussionists, who were most impressive.
The musicians moved from one type of percussion instrument to another with ease, and gave impassioned and energetic
Some of the most memorable moments included a Japanese composition by Minoru Miki in which the man playing a two metre long xylophone appeared to dance and glide along the instrument, and a variation of jazz great Chick Corea's Spain, which was playful, fun and let the drummers really feel the music, as their feet tapped and their heads bopped while they played.
One doesn't normally hear percussion instruments playing the melody for a Bach or Khairat composition, but Shalaby's vision for the ensemble makes it work.
He seemed very much at ease bringing together music from different cultures and styles and putting unique twists on it. And Shalaby himself is a joy to watch as he conducts with great, sweeping gestures, tapping on invisible drums, and dancing around the stage.
The concert also featured two soloists, violinist Hassan Sharara and flautists Ines Abdel Daim. Sharara's performances of Omar Khairat and Astor Piazzolla were stunning.
He made the violin sing for Khairat and become like an accordion for Piazzolla's famous tangos. Ines Abdel Daim also shone, especially in Vittorio Monti's Csardas, where the flute sounded at times like a songbird, and at times like a snake charmer.
The Munich Percussion Ensemble's concert at the ROHM was definitely different from anything else performed there before, but for those who attended, it was wonderful opportunity to explore new musical boundaries, and listening to percussion instruments played at their best.