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Silvia Calado Olivo. Seville, October 2nd, 2002
Photos: Javier Hurtado

'Medea'. Manolo Sanlúcar: music, orchestration and solo guitar. Santiago Lara: second guitar. Tino di Geraldo and Antonio Coronel: flamenco percussion. Orquesta Filarmónica de Málaga under the direction of Leo Brower. Teatro de la Maestranza. Seville, October 2nd, 2002. 9:00 p.m.

Reworking old material is not a common practice in flamenco, and even less so in a festival such as the Bienal which tends to value previously unpublished work above all else. So it is gratifying to come across 'Medea' in the scheduled program, a work conceived by Manolo Sanlúcar for the Ballet Nacional de España and which was debuted in 1984 with the Orquesta Sinfónica de Madrid with dancer Manuela Vargas. The work, which marked a before and after, definitively marked the guitarist's search for symphonic flamenco and the essence of Andalusian music

Backed up by the Orquesta Sinfónica de Málaga under the direction of Leo Brower, Manolo Sanlúcar came to demonstrate from the podium of the Teatro de la Maestranza the timelessness of great compositions...among other things. The guitar is 'Medea', the one who suffers, who conspires, who is consumed by jealousy, who seduces, who deceives, the rejected one, the one who takes revenge. The guitar does not relate the myth, the guitar is the myth. For that reason, like Medea, it is drowned by the din of the fiesta...and its lament is barely heard. For that reason, like Medea, it explodes in anger...and that is when the strings spit out fire. For that reason, like Medea, it weakly cries its stinging pain. For that reason...

Manolo Sanlúcar
Manolo Sanlúcar and the Orquesta Sinfónica de Málaga

And flamenco? Sanlúcar's symphonic version of the myth is more Andalusian than strictly flamenco - in the same line as the composition for Sara Baras' Mariana Pineda. Recognizing tango or bulería or taranta is the least of it - the important thing is the composition's coherence, the understanding of the individual flamenco guitar with the philharmonic group. Manolo Sanlúcar, as cerebral as he is impulsive, couldn't resist acting as co-conductor along with the Cuban conductor...his hands, words, his glance, everything was involved.

The "last cry of pain before the triumphal march" when "vengeance has been wrought but the avenger is her own greatest victim" leaves one breathless and satisfied enough to continue. No need even to watch the clock, nor resort to justification from outside the script, but... With an improvised removal of music stands in full light, Manolo Sanlúcar made Tino di Geraldo come down from the percussion section - special mention for one of the few individuals who salvages the percussive instrument - and called on Carmen Grilo to interpret several cuts from 'Locura de brisa y trino'. Lorca and Carmen Linares showing through.


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