Last night I was once again able to witness Gabi Sultana playing, this time at St James Cavalier.
If you haven’t come across Gabi before, she is a slight figured young woman, whose demure, delicate frame delivers the most incredible sounds from her piano.
As if in conversation with the instrument, she caresses, flirts, scorns, argues, shows anger, fear and amusement while playing pieces by Rzewski, Crumb and Xenakis. She also introduced us to a young composer, K Quintyn, whose Assembly Lines piece took us to days when you can drive with the lid down, evoking the vision of a factory in operation, making your favourite things.
Employing techniques not often seen like muting keys, which gives the sound a Cantonese pitch, laying a sheet of paper in the belly of the piano creating an airy xylophone sound or dropping in a chain which sends out haunting vibrations.
Fine examples of all these were displayed in the one hour recital, which took you back in time to the soundtracks of early Disney cartoons, or Hancock films. Moving, energising, emotional. People walked out on a high, impressed by the playing – Gabi uses her knuckles, elbows, forearms as well as her dexterous fingers to mesmerise her audience.
Aficionados nodded their heads in appreciation, us mere mortals just happy to be able to see her play again, having been introduced to her art at the Ibla Grand Prize last Summer, which of course, she won, and which will take her to Carniege Hall this May.