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Turns in the air

Sophie Gravier

Fanny Ardant claimed we should listen to contemporary music in great bathtubs of hot water or perfumed milk. La Donaira is more rural and mountainous, but the spirit is the same. First we climb a path to the heights. For a concert celebrating the element ‘air’ it seems natural. It would be possible to climb blind. To feel the irregular alignment of stones beneath our feet. To the left, resinous rosemary, further ahead, lavender, to the right a breath of fennel. The sound of the stream that goes to water tomatoes in the garden can be heard further off.

The air thickens and we enter the belly of the night. Stones crunch underfoot and the waterfall echoes. We’re almost there. We enter a kind of space with a roof that floats in the air, where a splendid grand piano is placed. A Steinway called desire. During the day, the walls are a view that catches the breath, the night leaves all to the imagination. It’s a new moon this night, and Venus allows us to stretch out on hay bales covered in soft cotton. Memories of childhood in the barn, laughter and the smell of bread dipped in hot milk.

Last night, for the Earth night, man and the elements were one. The earth was our audience. This night is different, we are in the studio of artists . . . who live in the open air.

Julien Libeer and Rosanne Philippens use the full palette of colours in Ravel’s Sonata for violín and piano. A little more purple in the ‘blues’ to evoke the lilac land of Andalucía, and quicksilver that makes «Perpetuum Mobile» fly away. The alchemy continues with Laure Stehlin and Robin Scott Fleming. Searching, and digging the sky as as Baudelaire said, interrogating the silence of the night. The music is in their fingertips. Suddenly, Lidy Blijdorp sings with her cello. Incomparable — the night enjoys it. Then, Damien Westrelin’s piano answers the saxophone of Gerald Preinfalk. Damien’s refined and delicate manner of playing is perfectly married with the voice of a Paganini of the Wind, an Eole of brass. The genius of Preinfalk’s music lifts the roof. His fingers alone decide whether it is midday or midnight. He paints, yes, but with blood, tears, laughter. The night ends with the generous voice and soft temperament of Sarah Laulan. Julien Libeer returns for a homage to Aretha Franklin. And it is time for a party: at La Donaira Apollo and Bacchus are never far away. The mornings are flooded with rose dew drops. In the evenings, the comforts of a glass of rosé.