It was a perfect and very intimate setting. Our host had generously opened her Gaucín home, Finca La Laguna, for a piano recital by Russian pianist Eugenia Gabrieluk. The spacious cream on cream sitting room was dominated by the grand piano; all other furniture had been pushed to the edge of the room and additional seating filled every every nook and cranny and spilled out onto the terrace.
I was seated on the terrace next to an elderly Spanish gentleman who chatted amiably in perfect English saying he didn’t feel that the summer was as hot this year as he’d only needed to turn on his ceiling fan a handful of times. After a brief explanation as to how the recital came about, the music began.
Eugenia played pieces by 19th and early 20th century Spanish composers Albéniz, Barrios, Granados and Infante, including a couple that had never been recorded.
It was a particularly clear evening and Gibraltar and the Rif mountains of Morocco were plainly visible from my spot on the terrace. The sun was setting behind El Hacho and cast shafts of golden sunshine east across the undulating hills and tinted La Crestallina a soft lilac. Away in the distance the wind turbines on the Manilva road past Casares looked like a sea of white crosses. Trees to the side of the house rustled in the breeze and the tiers of olive trees dropping away from the terrace glittered as the dying sun caught their crowns. The music was pure joy; the notes swept over us like the final rays of sun before slipping softly down the valley.
In the interval the audience mingled on the front terrace sipping ice-cold rebojitas and nibbling on olives.
By the time we returned to our seats the sun had dipped behind El Hacho and the skyline was a soft apricot blending upwards through shades of amber and turquoise to almost a teal blue.
Eugenia continued with more Albeniz before a rousing finish with Liszt’s Rapsodia Espanola. She was dressed in a brightly coloured, tropical print kaftan that billowed around her as her hands danced over the keys. Her unruly auburn hair was tied out of her face with a beaded clasp and her feet pumping the pedals were shod in blush coloured patent leather pumps. The audience applauded as Eugenia took her leave only to return a few moments later to send us on our way with an unexpected but moving rendition of Memories. We left entranced and wiping a collective tear from our eye, slowly filtered out of the house and down the darkened streets, some towards home and others to finish the night in a nearby bar.
When I turned into my street I could see that my neighbours were gathered in the road between Paco’s house and mine. The group of a dozen or so sat in a tight circle on hard backed chairs ready to move if a car needed to get by. It was a Saturday night and they were garrulous, perhaps a little drunk, as they bid me an enthusiastic goodnight…