Ana Cervantes brings Rumor de Páramo to REDCAT
by Joseph Mailander
Nearly drowned out from the raucous media noise attendant to the news of a new Ring production that doesn't clink and a warm-blooded conductor taking the helm of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, a woman from the spectacular colonial city of Guanajuato named Ana Cervantes quietly overwhelmed an entranced audience at REDCAT Wednesday night with a solo piano (and voice) performance of a suite of works quixotic and mesmerizing enough to be worthy of her own last name.
Ms. Cervantes performed twelve pieces inspired by novelist Juan Rulfo's Pedro Páramo with devotion and cunning, bridging the pieces by reading text in English (flawlessly) and Spanish (perfectamente) in between compositions. Her concentration on often syncopated, usually atonal works, commencing with Arturo Marquez's lyrical piece Solo Murmurs and culminating in Anne LeBaron's raucous work Los Murmullos--a work incorporating the flat-hand key-pounding of Cecil Taylor as well as Keith Jarrett's penchant for using piano strings like a harp--brought a sense of both the hallowed and the magical to the performance.
The entire suite as assembled by Ms. Cervantes is entitled Rumor de Páramo: Murmurs from the Wasteland. She has performed it elsewhere to critical acclaim. There have been seventeen pieces in the cycle but it felt complete at twelve. Mario Lavista's Páramos de Rulfo, a hypnotically halting fits-and-starts piece performed after the intermission, perhaps best reconciled the style of Rulfo's prose to music.
"Let's see where we end up," Ms. Cervantes said at the beginning of the concert regarding the concluding LeBaron piece, and forecasting the final return to playfulness in the program. We ended up showering her in applause and taking home something memorable.
Ms. Cervantes would be a fine choice for local series like Jacaranda and Ojai's festival, likely to bring new interest to each. She worked REDCAT's Yamaha grand with the airs of patience and reverence that local favorite Gloria Cheng often brings to a contemporary piece.