Antonio Breschi in residence

 

Born into a jazz family and playing jazz and classical piano since the age of three, this exiled virtuosic Florentine has been expressing for more than twenty years his maternal Flamenco legacy and his personal, adopted Irish-traditional ethos.

Well pre-dating Riverdance, and with an ongoing live acclaim in Spain and his native Italy, here a very personal residency showed an original composer/performer working com fortably and engagingly from within and out of genres.

Mike Hanrahan (guitar, song) replaced touring companion Ronnie Drew and his entrance with Queuing for a Living marked a transition from the opening older Butter- fly and Morrison's jig and Carolan-evokees into the pianist's typically-exotic, lavishly-flamboyant diversions from melodic routes which suggest familiarity but yet are so different.

The candle-lit venue matched Spanish evocation in Age of the Night and shrill, flawless Basque vocals were cheerfully complementary. Working with crossing hands, balancing contrapuntal melodies - with at times a percussive emphasis - on the full "grand" keyboard, he developed Mo Ghile Mear and other Irish pieces into a Baroque wholesomeness.

Superb classically-delivered song from Denis McArdle added the feeling of surreal to an enchanting evening; tasteful and generously-aware accompaniment to him permitted the maestro to move the spotlight unobtrusively, this demonstrating his stated opinion on the emotional closeness of much Irish and classical material, particularly that of Bach. Similarly, Breschi's gypsy-inspired Flamenco cascades built a sonic bridge which might well have given Bob Quinn's Atlantean a soundtrack.

Encoring on Lakes of Ponchetrain, then Whiskey You're the Divil beaten out on the piano-lid, this resourceful and interesting performance - at no cost to the quality of the night - simply begged the recognition of a bigger stage and appropriate retinue of musicians.