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Cuban Keyboard Giants

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Tuesday March 13, 2018

From The Chicago Tribune

Review: Valdes and Rubalcaba: Cuban keyboard giants at Orchestra Hall
By: Howard Reich

Two concert grands. Two colossal virtuosos. One indelible evening.

Granted, listeners who packed Orchestra Hall in Symphony Center on Friday evening already had high hopes for Cuban piano masters Chucho Valdes and Gonzalo Rubalcaba, judging by the long and raucous ovation that greeted them before they played a note.

But their music exceeded expectations, and not because the pianists played faster, louder or more brilliantly than their reputations suggested. No, it was the clarity, balance, sensitivity and tonal sheen of their work that made this a model of what two-piano improvisation can be — but rarely is. Add to that the well-established wizardry of their technical achievements and the Afro-Cuban pulse of all the music they played (albeit at widely varying tempos), and you had an avalanche of piano virtuosity on a level rarely attained.

Had Valdes and Rubalcaba been paid by the note, they could have retired when they left the auditorium (not that they would have wanted to).

Read the rest of The Chicago Tribune’s review here