Albert Cano Smit


Photos By: Chris Lee


SILICON VALLEY --Prior to his concert, we interviewed  winning concert pianist Albert Cano Smit in a telephone interview from New York City, where after finishing his Master's at the prestigious Juilliard School in 2020, he is now enrolled in the Artist Diploma Program as a Robert McDonald's student.

Because of the pandemic, this year Cano Smit will not be returning to Silicon Valley, where he got standout press reviews in 2019, this time his concert will be streamed online from May 21-24, as part of the SPRING HOME CONCERT HALL series, presented by the Steinway Society the Bay Area.
His program is as follows:
Selections from Parthenia: Preludium, and The Queen's Command by Orlando Gibbons (l583-1625)
Pavane for Dead Princess by Maurice Ravel (l875-l937)
Three Selections from Iberia by Isaac Albeniz (l875-l909)
Preludes, Book II (1913) by Claude Debussy (l862-l9l8)
Partita by Stephen Hough (b.l961)

Stephen Hough has a great repute as pianist, painter, writer and composer. He composed his Partita (A suite of dances written for a solo instrument) influenced by the music of the Catalan Composer Frederic Mompou Dencausse (April l893- June l987) for Cano Smit to perform, after learning that the young Catalan pianist (in 2017) had won the Naumburg (Gold)

The distinctiveness in the music sounds of the selections that pianist Cano Smit will be performing in his return to Silicon Valley, prompted Cultural World Bilingual to allow the artist to describe them himself.

A.C.S. "This will be a concert played by a musician who is exploring the music he loves dearly and that finds inspiration in the Southern European Music, particularly from the cultures of Spain and France. I think that music is relatable to everyone regardless of their background, but I would like to explain my choices to the audience, so that people know what to expect."

"In my concert I am going to present to the audience pieces that use the piano in innovative and rather in singular ways – they are full of evocative sonorities that imitate elements of the outside world, including the Gibbons which ironically were not even meant to be played on the piano. In an ideal world, I would describe my concert as a story in which the listeners can expect to go in unexpected directions. I will start with Gibbons."

Albert Cano Smit

"Orlando Gibbons was an organist and I believe one of the first virtuosos. He was one of the first composers who modulate and to use tonality in music, and one of the last figures of the English virginalist school, as the composers of the Late Tudor and Early Jacobean periods are named. I believe that Gibbons was ahead of his time. To me his music is extremely colorful, but not intended for the piano, because the piano did not exist at that time, which gives us a clue as to the sonorities he may have had in mind."

"The piece may have been written for the clavichord, or even for the organ, but I think it works extremely well with the piano. I will have to check the instrument that he was playing when he was working in the Royal Court, where he was writing madrigals for voice and some pieces for keyboard instruments. This Parthenia that I will be playing is part of the first collection of printed music. I don't know what it is about it, but for me, his music brings me back to the age of the troubadours."

"Gibbons wrote his music with a harmonic language that is beautifully shocking at times, but perhaps not so much in these particular pieces which are very direct, very unique, with a very open sound reminiscent of the future, almost with some Bachian elements from many years later. I feel as if his music is trying to scrape and express certain humanistic values, which we shouldn’t forget was a new concept at the time. To me is fascinating."

C.W.B. How did you get acquainted with the music of Gibbons?
A.C.S.: "I used to sing it, when I was singing with a choir when I was in a boarding school I attended when I was between eight and twelve years old, and because I also played the organ, I had to play a lot of the music from that era. I loved his music and I selected it because it was written before Bach and is not so well known. There is only one recording of his music on the piano that I came across. It was published in the fifties. So since I love his music, I decided to program it in my concert, but I don't know if I chose the music, or the music chose me" He said laughing, and then continues:

"With Debussy, I feel that there is a completely unexpected similarity in his music with the music of Gibbons. Debussy is one of the geniuses in music history. He practically created a new musical language and dared to break the rules of harmony that had existed for centuries, without minding if people would be upset about it. He and Gibbons were both avant-garde innovators, using harmony at times for color and pleasure as opposed to function. The former broke the rules at the end of their existence; the latter broke them before they were anything at all."

"Now among Debussy, Ravel and Albeniz one finds three distinct languages, always extremely inventive in the way they manage to portray and paint certain sounds and impressions. Their comparison to the visual artists of the times, in my humble opinion, is not far off, even if they themselves didn’t enjoy the label of impressionists."

"As for Albeniz’s work, he is an absolute wonder where even may be a more classical structure underneath, than in the other two. But the way Albeniz manages to portray the sounds, the sights,  the smells and the impressions from the Hispanic, Iberic World is absolutely striking. He can even make the piano sound like castanets and like a Moorish singer, within the same bar."

"So, to me, the music of these three composers is probably closest to each other in the program. It may sound obvious since they were contemporaries, but they’re very much on the same line at the time of the creative explosion of styles and directions of music that took place when they were alive. It is difficult to think that they were contemporaries of Brahms and Schoenberg."

Albert Cano Smit

"As for Ravel, he was a fan of the old ages, and of the music before Bach. I don't know if Ravel was familiar with Gibbons, who wrote many Pavans, but I would not be surprised if he did. Many of the renaissance Pavans(A stately Court dance that was introduced from Southern Europe to England in the sixteenth Century) is very little known. But when I was preparing my concert I thought that it would be neat to include this Pavane, because it is one of his most famous pieces and probably the most well known Pavane in the history of music. The style of both Gibbons and Ravel is very far apart, but they both have this dance underneath in common and the spirit of the renaissance as a backbone"

"My last piece is by a phenomenal character. He is, just as Gibbons was, a British pianist, but he is also a composer, a painter, and a writer of novels who had his own blog in the Telegraph Newspaper in London. He wrote this Partita as a commission for the Naumburg for me, and is a very recent work only just making its way into the concert stage. I had the huge honor to premiere the work.

C.W.B. And to end our interview, Albert, How would you descibe yourself to your online audience?

A.C.S."I was born in Geneva, Switzerland in 1996 but when people ask me where I’m from, my answer is comically complicated. I have a Spanish Father, a Dutch mother and lived most of my life in Barcelona, before moving to Manchester UK, to Los Angeles, California and finally to New York. I started piano at age 6 and never stopped playing the piano since. My family is not musical but very supportive. I love music from all ages and reading as well!"

To read the concert notes of Dr. Gary Lemco, listen to the pre-concert lecture by Dr. Gary Lemco and to Order tickets for the Home Concert Hall Performance on May 21-24, 2021 go to: Steinwaysociety.com For any questions about the concert, contact their box office at (408) 300-5635.