“A Heart warming disc” Teresa Carreño CD by Clara Rodriguez

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This, the second of Clara Rodriguez’s discs of piano music from her native Venezuela is a particular delight. In essence the style is suggestive of those charming Edwardian salon pieces once so popular. Charming, unpretentious perhaps, but endlessly imaginative and always beautifully written for the instrument. Ms Rodriguez has this music in her bones and there are delights at every turn. Teresa Carreno was born in Caracas in 1853 and died in New York in 1917. She came from a well known Venezuelan family who were proud of their close links to Simon Bolivar (a name now of course indelibly linked to the extraordinary youth orchestra that bears his name). Mentored by Louis Gottschalk, she made her New York recital debut aged just eight and went on to tour the world, earning plaudits from the likes of Rossini, Grieg and Gounod. This is music to warm the heart, lift the spirits and very often bring a smile to one’s face. Toe-tapping polonaise rhythms and mazurkas give way to more contemplative pieces such as the charming lullaby dedicated to her father, or the poignant elegiac ‘Partie’ written when she was just fourteen to commemorate the death of her mother. The lilting ‘Venecia’, as its title suggests, is a gently swaying barcarole while ‘Un bal en Reve’ overflows with joyousness and bonhommie. But there is more to this disc than nostalgia and lightheartedness. One of the more substantial pieces here is the ‘Une revue a Prague’, a full blown virtuosic concert study given virtuoso treatment by the pianist. This disc has been a real discovery. It is a collection with which to settle down in front of a warming winter fire.
Martin Furber. Amazon

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Moisés Moleiro CD

Moisés Moleiro CD

“This appears to be a reissue of a recital previously available on ASV (ASV CD DCA 890), and recorded, I believe, in 1994. It is good to have it back in circulation, as it offers a well-played representation of an interesting composer.

Moleiro was born in Zaraza in Venezuela and in the mid 1920s he studied piano in Caracas with a well-known teacher, Don Salvador Llamozas. He went on to make a career as a pianist, composer and teacher. This present CD includes the bulk of the work he wrote for the piano.

Most of the music here is not strikingly Latin American in manner, although there are a few distinctive touches here and there which speak of its geographical origins. For the most part Moleiro’s piano music has about it a kind of aristocratic grace, and works within mostly European models understood from a South American perspective. At times one senses a kind of nostalgia for European forms and what they might represent. One is not surprised to encounter ‘El senor de la peluca’ – the gentleman with the wig – or to find oneself listening to a charming Waltz.

Moleiro’s Sonatinas are written in the tradition of Scarlatti (though being far from mere pastiche); his Prelude and Fugue in C sharp minor have more than a little of Bach about them; the Serenade in the Spanish Style speaks for itself; the Estudio de concierto has clear affinities with Chopin and the delightful La fuente registers its composer’s knowledge of Ravel and Debussy. But everywhere there is enough evidence of a personal sensibility at work to maintain the listener’s interest. At times Moleiro’s programmatic miniatures – such as La muchacha de la herrería (the girl from the blacksmiths), El herrero (The blacksmith) and Los pájaros (The birds) – are attractive additions to a familiar keyboard tradition.

The last two pieces on the CD are the most distinctive. Certainly Estampas del llano (Pictures of the plains) and Joropo are far more thoroughly infused with a sense of the composer’s native land, and without that nostalgic air mentioned above. Though the musical language of Estampas del llano is essentially European in nature, its evocation of the Venezuelan plains, in their contrasting fecundity and aridity, makes it music that no European composer would have written. The joropo music of Venezuela grew out of the fusion of ancient Spanish traditions, including the fandango and the malagueña (themselves incorporating Arabic influences) with the musics of African slaves and of native South American Indians. It is a heady mix and from it has grown some exciting music. A good deal of that excitement is captured in Moleiro’s Joropo for piano, played with considerable panache by Clara Rodriguez.

Throughout this recital the sureness of Rodriguez’ technique is evident, and her flexibility ensures that she can sound at home in all of the various musical idioms on which Moleiro’s piano music touches. This makes for a consistently entertaining programme – a CD that makes a case, without overstatement, for the music of a figure too little known beyond his native land.” Glyn Pursglove. Music Web International

Rachmaninov Third Piano Concerto

 “In a packed Saint John’s Smith Square, the soloist in Rachmaninov’s Third Piano Concerto was Clara Rodriguez who gave a flowing and committed account of the demanding solo part shrewdly revealing the works rhetorical contrasts in playing that was by turns brisk, lively and sympathetic.”         Robert Matthew-Walker. Musical Opinion 2007