Watching Manuel Guillén play Elgar's Serenade for Strings in E Minor Op.20 is like watching Danny DeVito paint a Picasso. Jiggling jowled, prodigally paunched and erratically tonsured, this mini Madrilenian leads the silkily black-clad young string players of La Camerata de Madrid like a mischievous Satyr shepherding Manaeds through a celebratory dance. Elegant, energetic, and edged with danger, La Camerata veer from the dissonant intricacies of Zulema de la Cruz's specially commissioned Concerto Grosso Para Cuerdos to Guillén's own playful, gutsy remix of Saraste's swooning Danzas Españolas with deceptive ease.
Guillén fiddles - the only verb for his quicksilver rustic brilliance - with his whole compact body, curling and stretching up on his toes as if to seduce the implacable Spanish heavens with competing human heat. At the concert I caught he was inaugurating Malaga's newly renovated Sala María Cristina, a camply resplendent fantasy of mirrors and roses and flush-faced gods who looked tempted to jump down and join their unlikely, electrifying Pan. Manuel, usted es swell.
In Malaga, like much of southern Spain, is a city of bone. Her soft, striated stone bakes under a gravedigger sun in calciferous creams, pinks and caramels; her corner-lurking churches hide the once-evangelical mandibles of whey-faced saints behind shimmering mosaic tiles; her modestly magnificent cathedral offers faded, skeletal pillars up to the flesh-melting sky. Her mountainous sister Ronda is whiter and quieter, hazy with horse flank and bull dust, snug in self-contained beauty and smug with the great men she has entrapped - angular, nimble-fingered Peinado; audacious, nimble-footed Pedro Romero - with her heady jasmine breeze.
Great violinists, great horses, and more cliche-ridden, history-laden, religion-stinking sensuality than one broad can handle in a frustratingly few snatched hours. Amigos, I'm coming back.