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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 20 November 2018

Aisha Syed Castro performance a treat for classical music lovers

Violin virtuoso Aisha Syed Castro gave a stunning performance as part of Abu Dhabi Festival's Recital Series.
Aisha Syed Castro performs at Emirates Palace. Courtesy ADF
Aisha Syed Castro performs at Emirates Palace. Courtesy ADF

Lovers of the violin were enthralled on Tuesday night by a performance by Aisha Syed Castro.

Making her UAE debut as part of the Abu Dhabi Festival, the statuesque Dominican ­virtuoso demonstrated the classical instrument’s ability to evoke deep emotions with a varied programme that ranged from the classics to modern ­compositions.

Accompanied by a pianist, Castro began with Paganini’s Violin Concerto No 2 in B minor.

It was a statement of intent – the 1826 piece was created to showcase the violin’s dexterity, and Castro pulled it off with aplomb.

During the three movements, Castro relished Paganini’s twists and turns as she summoned notes that glided, skipped and seemingly skirted on the edge of disaster.

After those intense acrobatics, Ravel’s Sonata No 2 in G major provided welcome respite.

The meditative tone and some of the elongated notes, particularly in the first movement, recalled the composer’s love of American jazz and blues.

Arguably the evening’s most accessible segment was El Primer Beso. Performed after the interval and composed by her compatriot, the late Dominican Julio Alberto Hernandez, it was beautifully rendered by Castro, with the audience revelling in the almost folkish melodies.

It also acted as an aural palate cleanser, as Castro then delivered the night’s big set piece, Bach’s Chaconne from the Partita No 2 In D minor.

It was easy to see why this piece is viewed as one of the big summits for an accomplished violinist to climb – Castro’s virtuosity was in full swing here as she methodically worked through the dozens of variations and melodic concepts that comprise the 15-minute work.

At the end, Castro left us with a deeper understanding and admiration of the violin’s ­possibilities.

The Abu Dhabi Festival’s inaugural Recital Series concludes on Tuesday, March 24 with a performance by the Canadian pianist Jan Lisiecki at Emirates Palace. For details, visit www.abudhabifestival.ae

sasaeed@thenational.ae