Am enjoying immensely practising the complete ballet of "Castor & Pollux" by one of my favorite composers, Santiago Lanchares. It is a work for piano & percussion (I will do it with my friend, the number one, second to none percussionist Miquel Bernat), 40 minutes of brilliant, exhilarating, inexhaustibly driving rhythmical work. We will do the complete work (12 episodes) for the first time in 3 weeks time in Portugal, and during the next season we will do it several times with the famous choreographer Dani Panullo in Madrid and several other cities.
The combination of piano and percussion produces a fascinating sound world ; especially in this ballet Lanchares uses 90% only marimba and vibraphone. The range of the character of the sound it produces is so wide, from the dark low register of the marimba to the ear-piercing resonating sounds of the combination of the piano and vibraphone. The dynamic range is also astonishingly wide, as well as their colourful sound palette and textures. Sometimes Miquel Bernat plays those two instruments simultaneously, each with one hand (that's a technique that he has developed through the years). You can hear the results of Miquel playing both instruments in http://www.youtube.com/ , if you search for Santiago Lanchares' name , where "Lamento de Pollux" is shown with the film by another friend of us, Chendra Panatan.
There is of course the problem of balance of loudness, since those percussion instruments are by nature louder than the piano, but Santiago Lanchares could deal with it in a clever way . He is, I consider, the best composer for piano coming from Spain of today together with Jesus Rueda. But Rueda takes his influence from the romantic tradition broken after Rachmaninov (although Rueda has many highly imaginative works for percussion ; in fact Miquel and his group "Drumming" will record a whole CD of his percussion works next year), and Lanchares follows the percussive path of Bartok and Britten. So, two composers each walking on their own paths, and the artistic result is equally valid and of the highest quality. Meanwhile, there are some music dictators out there who are "metaphorically killing" (a quote from Times magazine) future generation of composers who didn't follow their (presumably one and only) path. Even some of those dictators just ORDER other people to follow their path, while they themselves don't walk through it ; they don't compose, just dictate !!!
It reminds me of the period of Suharto dictatorship in Indonesia, when they built one highway to connect two cities. One HAS to pass through that one and only highway if you want to arrive at his destination. And of course he has to pay the toll . Now, what can Suharto do now with all that money ? I wonder ....