Ashley Ball trained as a classical pianist in the United Kingdom and now resides in south Florida, USA.
Ashley has received international acclaim for his interpretations of the virtuosic piano works by Cuba’s greatest composer, Ernesto Lecuona, and is currently engaged in recording 100 works by the Latin musical genius available as a series of breathtaking albums entitled ‘Cuban Passion’.
Ernesto Lecuona, (1895-1963), Cuba’s greatest composer, was quite possibly the most important and influential Latin musical persona of the twentieth century and surely deserves the title of “the lost Chopin of the Caribbean.”
Initially a child prodigy pianist, he pursued a career as a concert pianist before devoting more of his energies to composition, writing more than 700 works – 176 for the piano.
The musical depth and substance of his compositions, was attested to by none other than Ravel, his former teacher, who upon hearing “Malaguena,” said, “It is more beautiful and melodic than my Bolero”. Lecuona’s work was also praised by the great Pianist Arthur Rubenstein, who said of him,“I do not know whether or not to admire the genius pianist or the sublime composer”.
The majority of his piano works, while short, tend towards the virtuosic, some quite extreme, and these technical demands of the player have probably hindered the dissemination of his output to some extent, but his exquisite gift for memorable lyrical melodic construction is equal to many of the classical greats. Indeed, while a lot of the pieces are in the vein of the late 19th century Romantic piano school, there is a veritable palate of composer’s influences to be found – Chopin, Liszt, Debussy, Rachmaninov, Bach, Bartok, not to mention Gershwin and Joplin. All the while Lecuona integrates melodic, rhythmic, and harmonic colors that are quintessentially Cuban in flavor.
Playing his works requires considerable pianistic gymnastics, but to perform Lecuona, I must feel your deepest despair, tango with you, share your ecstasy, and swoon in your wildest love affair. Here is music bursting with drama and tension one moment and “pathetique” tenderness the next. Only then will I succeed in arousing the great Cuban’s passion in you.
The total re-evaluation of Lecuona’s compositional genius is long overdue.