Luis Llaneza, baritone
Edward Neeman, piano
Shane Campbell, guitar
Larry Sitsky Room, ANU School of Music 20 October
Reviewed by Len Power
The lucky audience members at this first concert in Australia of Spanish baritone, Luis Llaneza, were treated to an extraordinary performance of Spanish music by this superb singer.
Luis Llaneza, baritone, was born in Spain. He has a wide repertoire of opera roles including Alfredo in “La Traviata”, Zarzuela roles, lieder, oratorios, chamber music and contemporary music. He has performed extensively in Spain and many other European countries as well as in numerous South and Central American countries and in Africa.
He was accompanied in the first half of the program by guitarist, Shane Campbell. Beginning with “A La Luna Nací Yo”, a traditional Sephardic song, Llaneza impressed with his commanding voice, fine diction and sensitive singing of this atmospheric work.
Llaneza does not just sing a song, he performs it with dramatic intensity, bringing to life the full spectrum of emotions that the song is calling for. The way he uses his voice, his body language and eye contact gives you the meaning of the words even if you do not speak the language.
The first half of the program also included a set of Argentinian songs by Carlos Guastavino and three Spanish songs in honour of the poet, Federico García Lorca. Again, the audience was swept away into a world of strong feelings, of romance, of passion, pride and sadness. Llaneza gave them all an electrifying performance accompanied by the sensitive playing of Shane Campbell on guitar.
Campbell, winner of the ANU Whitworth Roach Classical Music Competition 2021, also played a guitar solo, “Homenaje A Debussy” by Manuel de Falla. It was an excellent, sensitive performance rich in colour.
In the second half of the program, Edward Neeman accompanied Luis Llaneza on piano with songs by the Cuban composers, Ernesto Lecuona and Eduardo Sánchez de Fuentes, the Mexican composer, Agustín Lara, and works by the Spanish composers José Serrano, Francisco Alonso and others.
All were sung with great feeling from quiet emotions to thunderous moments of high passion. A standout was his singing of Lara’s “Rival”, which was given a thrilling performance. Edward Neeman’s accompaniment for these songs was excellent.
While all of the songs were given great performances, Llanez also displayed a relaxed and friendly personality, providing the audience with anecdotes about the songs and engaging with them with his down-to-earth, grateful and charming smile.
Photo by Len Power
This review was first published by Canberra CityNews digital edition on 21 October 2023.
Len Power's reviews are also broadcast on Artsound FM 92.7 in the ‘Arts Cafe’ and ‘Arts About’ programs and published in his blog 'Just Power Writing' at https://justpowerwriting.blogspot.com/.