Americas Without Frontiers CD by pianist Clara Rodriguez reviewed on The Sunday Times

Refined playing

“The Venezuelan is a doughty champion of Latin-American music, and her programme of piano pieces reaches below and often jaunty surface to capture the region’s deeper soul.

The Venezuelan works by Antonio Estévez and Juan Carlos Núñez are especially captivating, while the Gershwin Three Preludes are a class act.”

Stephen Pettit, Sunday Times Jan 28 2018

On Record -The latest essential releases – Sunday Times Culture Magazine

#AmericasWithoutFrontiers. Nimbus Alliance NI6346

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Américas Sin Fronteras CD reseñado en la revista International Piano. “Un excelente lanzamiento.”

 

Americas Without Frontiers Works by Prieto, Ramírez, Pérez, Estévez, Núñez, Nazareth, Gershwin, Vitier, Cervantes, Lamothe and Romero

Clara Rodriguez (pf), Carlos Nené Quintero (perc.) Carlos Rodríguez (bass) Edwin Arellano (cuatro), Manuel Rangel (maracas)

Nimbus NI 6346

*****

“El lado multiculturalista de las Américas se celebra en este vivaz disco de la pianista venezolana Clara Rodríguez, que representa la cultura musical de amerindios, europeos y africanos.

Desde el principio, el ambiente es de fiesta, con maracas añadidas al Apure en un viaje de Genaro Prieto, un joropo
venezolano.

El colombiano Germán Dario Pérez aporta un bambuco, Ancestro, antes de que las 17 Piezas Infantiles del venezolano Antonio Estévez hablen de una profundidad que desmiente su título.

Rodríguez interpreta esta música con habilidad innata, encontrando infinita ternura y nostálgica lamentación.

Dos tangos de Nazaret, llenos de energía (el segundo es el conocido Odeón), conducen a un relato robusto de los Tres Preludios de Gershwin antes de que surja la gloriosa Danza de fin de siglo de José María Vitier, con su resplandeciente trabajo de digitación.

La seductora pieza por Lamothe, La dangereuse, ofrece otro punto culminante.

Un excelente lanzamiento.”

 

Colin Clarke. Marzo Abril 2018. International Piano magazine.

 

#AmericasWithoutFrontiers

Americas Without Frontiers CD “A superb release”

Americas Without Frontiers CD reviewed on International Piano magazine

Americas Without Frontiers Works by Prieto, Ramírez, Pérez, Estévez, Núñez, Nazareth, Gershwin, Vitier, Cervantes, Lamothe and Romero

Clara Rodriguez (pf), Carlos Nené Quintero (perc.) Carlos Rodríguez (bass) Edwin Arellano (cuatro), Manuel Rangel (maracas)

Nimbus NI 6346

*****

The multiculturalist side of the Americas is celebrated in this vivacious disc by Venezuelan pianist Clara Rodriguez, from Amerindian to European to Black African. Right from the off, the atmosphere is that of fiesta, with added maracas to Genaro Prieto’s Apure en un viaje, a Venezuelan joropo.

Colombian Germán Darío Pérez contributes a bambuco, Ancestro, before 17 Piezas Infantiles by Venezuelan Antonio Estevez speak of a depth tha belies their title. Rodriguez plays this music to the manner born, finding infinite tenderness and nostalgic regret.

Two tangos by Nazareth, full of energy (the second is the well known Odeon), lead to a robust account  of Gershwin’s Three Preludes before Cuban Jose Maria Vitier’s glorious Danza de fin de siglo, with its glittering passagework, emerges.

Lamothe’s slinky La dangereuse offers another highlight.

A superb release.”

 

 

 

Colin Clarke. March April 2018. International Piano magazine.

#AmericasWithoutFrontiers

Crítica al CD “Américas Sin Fronteras” por Ray Picot. ILAMS #AmericasWithoutFrontiers

Su impacto es inmediato y positivo

En octubre pasado Clara Rodríguez tocó un interesante programa donde exploró la música del Caribe, dos meses después acaba de lanzar su última grabación, Americas Without Frontiers Américas Sin Fronteras (Nimbus Alliance NI6346) que nos lleva por el área explorada en el concierto y más allá.

Aunque solo he tenido el CD muy poco tiempo, su impacto es inmediato y positivo,  ya he explorado la discografía de esta pianista, pero debo decir que este álbum representa una experiencia completamente nueva.

Muy imaginativa, Clara Rodríguez sustenta el álbum con algunos arreglos idiomáticos que incorporan sutiles percusiones. Estos aparecen en diferentes lugares a través del mismo, aunque nunca afectan, sino que resaltan el interfaz único de la música de arte sudamericana y caribeña y los estilos más populares.

Escuchar a Nazareth primero en piano solo y luego con la percusión es una idea inspirada, uno se pregunta ¿por qué esto no se hace con más frecuencia?. Si bien hay algunos nombres de compositores que no son familiares, la elección de la música es perfecta, ya que un ritmo de baile se desliza en otro.

También hay conceptos extramusicales detrás del álbum, que son interesantes y muestran lo bien conectada que está la Sra. Rodríguez con el mundo en el que se creó esta música.

En este álbum se hace una conexión muy importante con el centenario del venezolano Antonio Estévez en 2016, con las maravillosamente idiomáticas 17 Pieces infantiles, que le valieron a el compositor el Premio Nacional de Música en 1957. Estas son piezas cortas fascinantes que suenan seductoramente simples en las manos de Clara Rodriquez, ¡lo cual estoy seguro de que no es así! Las piezas individuales exhiben muchos cambios de humor, respirando un aire indígena distintivo, pero siempre melodioso e interesante.

Clara las toca con afecto y virtuosismo consumado y representan algunos de los mejores trabajos del compositor para el piano, es sorprendente que no se les conozca mejor.

Otro punto a destacar fue la selección de 5 estudios de Ariel Ramírez, que, como su maravillosa Alfonsina y el mar, evocan sin esfuerzo el área del Río de la Plata.En todo el álbum, las piezas familiares respiran un aire nuevo en un entorno transformado y con interpretaciones llenas de tanta devoción.

En resumen, es un disco para disfrutar y saborear por los aficionados y los recién llegados a un repertorio fascinante, del cual Clara Rodríguez es la campeona indiscutida.”

En resumen, es un disco para disfrutar y saborear por los aficionados y los recién llegados a un repertorio fascinante, del cual Clara Rodríguez es la campeona indiscutida.Clarines_blue_wednesday

Ray Picot. ILAMS Ibero Latin-American Music Society. London 2017

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Review of “AMERICAS WITHOUT FRONTIERS” CD by Ray Picot

Its impact is immediate and positive

Another interesting programme was played last October by Clara Rodríguez, where she explored the music of the Caribbean, two months later she has just released her latest recording, Americas Without Frontiers (Nimbus Alliance NI6346) which takes us around the area explored in the concert and beyond. Whilst I’ve only had the CD a very short time, its impact is immediate and positive, though treading in some familiar areas from this pianist’s discography, the album is an altogether new experience.

“The choice of music is perfect, as one dance rhythm slips into another”

Rather imaginatively Clara Rodríguez bookends the album with some idiomatic arrangements which incorporate subtle percussion. These also pop up in places across the programme, though they never jar, but rather point up the unique interface in South American and Caribbean art music and more popular styles. Listening to Nazareth firstly on solo piano and then with the percussion is inspired, and you wonder why this is not done more often. Whilst there are some names of composers who will be unfamiliar, the choice of music is perfect, as one dance rhythm slips into another. There are also extra-musical concepts behind the album, which are interesting and shows how well connected Ms Rodríguez is with the world in which this music was created.

“They are played with affection and consummate virtuosity”

A very important connection is made in this album to the 2016 centenary of the Venezuelan, Antonio Estévez, with the wonderfully idiomatic 17 Pieces infantiles, which resulted in the composer being given the National Music Award in 1957. These are fascinating short pieces which sound beguilingly simple in Clara Rodriquez’ hands, which I am sure they are not! The individual pieces exhibit many mood changes, breathing a distinctive indigenous air, but always tuneful and interesting. They are played with affection and consummate virtuosity and represent some of the composer’s best work for the piano, and it is surprising they are not better known.

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Another highlight for me was the selection of 5 Studies by Ariel Ramírez, which, like his wonderful Alfonsina y el mar, effortlessly conjure the area of Río de la Plata.

Across the album, familiar pieces breathe a new air in transformed surroundings and with such dedicated performances.

“In short this is a disc to enjoy and savour by afficionados and newcomers to a fascinating repertoire, of which Clara Rodríguez is an undisputed champion.”

Ray Picot ILAMS IberoLatinAmericanMusicSociety. London 2017Clarines_blue_wednesday

Hard to Beat! Clara Rodriguez plays Moisés Moleiro (CD)

New review on Moisés Moleiro CD by Clara Rodríguez

by HOWARD SMITH

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‘Rodriguez’ generous programme touches on a diversity of moods: wistful, playful, tender, gentle, reflective, yearning, nostalgic, skittish, jocular, joyful, festive and exuberant spring to mind. For 1¼ hours of dazzling, undemanding musical enjoyment, this CD concert is surely hard to beat.’

Venezuelan-born pianist Clara Rodriguez has been resident in London since she was seventeen. She began serious studies at the Conservatorio Juan Jose Landaeta (Caracas) and subsequently trained at the Royal College of Music (London). Clara has toured in the Americas, Europe, Australia, China and the Far East.

Her tutors/mentors have been Paul Badura-Skoda and Phyllis Sellick. She was also influenced by Polska Nagrania recording artist, Regina Smendzianka (born 1924) while attending the Polish artist’s Chopin ‘masterclass’ in Caracas. Today, when not performing, Rodriguez is piano professor at the RCM (Junior Department). Her newly released CD — it first appeared on ASV CD DCA890 in 1994 — is devoted entirely to Moisés Moleiro’s enchanting, superbly crafted short works for piano. When he was six, pianist and composer Moleiro had just three months tuition with Manuel Sansón. In 1924, he began four years of music studies in Caracas with piano pedagogue Llamozas. He graduated in 1927 and presented his first recital in 1931. Moleiro founded Orfeón Lamas, where he made a valuable contribution as composer. In addition, he was professor of piano at the Caracas Musical Declamation Academy (today ‘José Angel Lamas’). His works have been performed in the United States, Europe and many Latin American countries.

Rodriguez begins her recital with five sonatinas (16’34”) followed by three toccatas (7’14”). ‘The Pequeña Suite’ has five items: ‘Dance Air’, ‘Waltz Time’, ‘Lullaby’, ‘The Gentleman with the Wig’ and ‘The Harpsichord’.

Tracks 14 and 15 are alloted (respectively) to ‘Preludio’ (1’29”) and ‘Fuga’ (1’42”). ‘Suite Infantil’ consists of tracks 16-18: ‘The knife grinder’, ‘The cradle’ and ‘The birds’. ‘Dos Miniaturas’ (tracks 19 and 20) are ‘The Girl from the Blacksmith’s’ and ‘The Blacksmith’.

To end Rodriguez adds six titled items including Estampas del Llano (‘Pictures of the plains’) — track 25, the longest separate item (9’05”) in the entire programme. Moisés Moleiro was a contemporary of Venezuelan musicologist, educator and composer Vicente Emilio Sojo (1887-1974) who became conductor of Orfeón Lamas. In addition Sojo was founder-conductor and tenacious advocate of the Venezuelan Symphony Orchestra. In 1940 together with other composers he prepared the first song book for Venezuelan children. Sojo’s legacy is preserved in the Vicente Emilio Sojo Latin American Institute of Research and Music Studies (established 1978) to honour his role as founder (in the early twentieth century) of the Nationalistic School of Composition (also known as Escuela de Santa Capilla).

The five Sonatinos are largely bouyant, bustling, helter-skelter and consistently melodic. They’re not invested with any significant depth but scored instead for their pleasurable, playful exuberance. At times Moreiro’s inventions appear to be poised between eighteenth century classicism and something hovering on the brink of nineteenth century romanticism as in the G minor Sonatina, No 4 (track 3).

During his bewitching Pequena Suite (tracks 9-13), the dichotomy is perfectly illustrated by comparing ‘Waltz Time’ and ‘The Gentleman with the Wig’.

The third and final item of Suite Infantil titled Los pájaros (The Birds) has echoes of Balet nevylupivshikhsya ptentsov (‘Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks’) from Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. Serenata al estilo español (‘Serenade in the Spanish style’, track 23) with its easy ‘romantic’ mode, includes a short segment (2’04”-2’28”) in pure latin guitar style. Rodriguez is most decidedly an ideal Moleiro advocate; her performances are so alive with outstanding crystalline serenity and naturalistic pellucid phrasing.

In the second of two miniatures (1st: ‘The Girl from the blacksmith’s’ and 2nd: ‘The Blacksmith’), the busy workman briefly envisions ‘The Girl’ (0’39”-0’44”) as he toils. Estampas del Llano, a piece of contrasted folk-like moods, deserves to be a staple item far more in recitalists’ repertories than is presently the case. Here Moreiro’s open, unaffected hallmark character is leavened with the more sombre aspect of Venezuelan lore. (1’00”-4’14” and 7’47”-8’58”)

Though this programme has the bulk of its roots in aspects of European musical traditions Moleiro was a tireless proponent of (Venezuelan ‘joropo’), musica llanera from plains south and east of Caracas. In 1882 joropo became Venezuela’s national dance though hitherto the word joropo (Spanish) meant ‘a party’. Similarities may be found in (selected) works of Chabrier, Ravel, de Falla.

How appropriate then to conclude with Moleiro’s Joropo, an unflagging, propulsive, carnival piece to set toes tapping, heels clicking and skirts flying.

Rodriguez’ generous programme touches on a diversity of moods: wistful, playful, tender, gentle, reflective, yearning, nostalgic, skittish, jocular, joyful, festive and exuberant spring to mind. For 1¼ hours of dazzling, undemanding musical enjoyment, this CD concert is surely hard to beat.

Copyright © 9 June 2017 Estate of the late Howard Smith, Masterton, New Zealand