Ramon Ruiz & Manuel de Cadiz
On a beautiful Saturday evening, the Regis School of Music hosted a well-attended concert of Flamenco. Ramon Ruiz, as the programme noted, is a player whose Flamenco encompasses a diversity of styles,
Ramon appeared alone to begin the evening, and gave us three solo pieces. The first was a Soleares, one of the forms or Toques, if one is talking purely about guitar that has its genesis deep in the soul. This was followed by a more up-tempo Alegrias by Sabicas, a master of the `old school' of Flamenco, and was characteristically poised and elegant. Perhaps Ramon's tension gave rise to a couple of minor fluffs in the scale passages, but these were effortlessly absorbed in the dynamic of the music. Next came a dark hued Farruca in dropped D tuning, the compelling rhythmic passages interspersed with rapturous falsettos. It was with the appearance of the brilliant singer Manuel de Cadiz that Ramon's playing began to breathe. However we had to wait to hear Manuel, as he played the Cajon alongside Ramon in a fiery Bulerias in which the harmonies and rhythms of Flamenco Nuevo let rip. Manuel and Ramon then performed an Alegrias, the emotional range of which was quite staggering. With a voice that was public and commanding, intimate and confessional in the same gesture, Manuel seemed to lay his life before us. I had to look away: it was like listening to a prayer.
In the final piece of the evening, a Soleares, the dancer Helena joined the musicians. She has a powerful and sensual presence, and the dance formed an entirely appropriate and dramatic climax to the evening. Watching these three consummate artists on the stage, one realised that dance which is the essence of Flamenco lies not only with the dancer, but also with the movements, expressions, actions and sounds of everyone on the stage. To say what this essence actually is however would be like a child taking a clock apart to find what the time was.