Swingin’ into Spring with Armas Maiste in Ottawa

Mother Nature may have slowed the coming of spring this year to the Ottawa region but neither Mother Nature nor a tardy spring could stop Armas Maiste from performing his magic on the piano. On the evening of Saturday April 20th at Barrhaven United Church in Ottawa, following performances by the Manotick Brass and other local groups in the first half of the concert, Armas came out to enthral the audience with his wizardry on the keyboard. Spring flowers may not have been out yet, but Armas brought forth the full bloom of sounds on the piano.
When Armas sits down at the piano, the sound is so fluid and ethereal that there is an impression of the piano playing by itself. Armas began with masterful renditions of two contrasting pieces, Chopin’s beautiful Valse Brillante followed by Rachmaninoff’s Prelude Opus 3, number 2. As if the contrast between two pieces was not enough, Armas, as only he is capable of doing, spirited the audience from the gracefulness of classical music to the swinging world of jazz and spring. Accompanied by long-time bass player and violinist, Sol Gunnar, Armas played close to a dozen pieces related to the theme of spring, including Cole Porter’s What is This Thing Called Love, Oscar Peterson’s Canadiana Suite Selections and Rogers and Hammerstein’s It Might As Well Be Spring. By the end of the concert Armas and his music had brought spring into the air and a spring into everyone’s step. What else could the audience do but rise to give him a much deserved standing ovation.
There is always a temptation to ask, after a long and illustrious career such as Armas has had, how long can he keep up such brilliant playing. The question we should really be asking is how long the piano can keep up with Armas. We await the next concert.

Tõnu Onu

Maiste and musicians


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