Review: Katona Twins; Bury St Edmunds Festival; Unitarian Meeting House; Tuesday May 22

A gloriously sunny day and the charm of the Unitarian Meeting House provided a pleasant and apt context for the mostly Spanish-influenced programme offered by the Katona Twins on Tuesday.

Though born in Hungary, with German citizenship, and living in Liverpool, Peter and Zoltan Katona seemed completely at one with the Hispanic style, many features of which were employed in their arrangements, including using the body of the guitar to good percussive effect. It was slightly uncanny watching and hearing these identical twins perform.

The evident strength of their communication, and their unity of technique and style, has often been commented on; it leads to exceptional ensemble playing, flawless balance and a seamless flowing consistency as melodic lines and accompaniments pass between them.

They started with a pretty flashy and very idiomatic arrangement of Boccherini’s Introduction and Fandango, before moving on to a very contrasting arrangement of four movements from Bach’s French Suite No 5 (BWV 816). Then four excerpts from Bizet’s Carmen were played with sheer brilliance, the famous Toreador’s March being such a ‘tour de force’ that the audience couldn’t resist applauding, even with another movement to go.

Albeniz’s atmospheric ‘Cordoba’ preceded a piece called Brothers Karamazov by Peter Katona, but the highlight for me was the concert’s finale – five movements from El Amor Brujo by Falla. Moving from contemplative moments of great concentration to passionate fiery outbursts ,this showed the twins’ ensemble work at its best, and the extraordinary arrangement of the famous Ritual Fire Dance brought the concert to a dramatic and exciting conclusion.

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Albeniz’s short lyrical and evocative piece Mallorca provided the delightful encore which (inevitably) the audience demanded after this brilliant programme.

Wynn Rees

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