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