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Review 5: Israel Galván thunders on the Abbey main stage

Fri 29 May 2015

Review 5: Israel Galván thunders on the Abbey main stage

The main stage at the Abbey is still quaking from last night's performance. The scenery was sparse - nothing save flooring, three chairs upstage right and a couple of microphone stands. Three performers enter, garbed in black. Throughout, squares, shafts and spots of pure light will carve space on the unornamented stage, the only concession to colour. Everything is pared back to an elemental level.

Though the staging is understated, the performance is not. Israel Galván is regarded as a master of flamenco and he embodies this accolade on stage, inhabiting the performance with both tightly curbed ferocity and aplomb. His lithe form exudes strength and control - every gesture, though extended to the limit, is precise. Every beat from his soles, heels and hands has the accuracy of a metronome. As Galván moves, brothers David and Alfredo Lagos weave their acoustic mastery around the beats of his feet and hands. David ululates mournfully, the largeness of his voice filling the theatre. Alfredo's fingers ripple over the guitar strings with the fluency of someone for whom the instrument is a native tongue.

The three are consumed by their sounds and movements, entirely within the work, channeling the purity and spirit of flamenco from the depths of its origins in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Galván displays the supreme control of a master with intermittent, cheeky flourishes that bring the performance into a contemporary framework, sidestepping what could otherwise slide into a static presentation of petrified form.

Passionate, controlled and quintessential, La Edad de Oro is a fierce and heartfelt tribute to an ancient form.