London Concert and CD launch “Americas Without Frontiers”

Wednesday 29 November at 7.30 pm at St. James’s Church, Piccadilly


Venezuelan pianist Clara Rodriguez returns to St. James’s Piccadilly for an evening full of wonderful music with a varied programme of composers that include Chopin, Ravel and Rachmaninoff as well as a selection of fantastically joyful and intriguing compositions by composers from Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Haiti and Venezuela to launch Clara Rodriguez’s new CD “Americas Without Frontiers” on Nimbus Records.

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Dear friends,

I am happy to announce that I shall be playing a recital on Wednesday 29th November at 7.30 pm at the beautiful St. James’s Church in Piccadilly.

This time I shall be also paying homage to my teacher, the English pianist Phyllis Sellick (1911-2007) in the tenth year of her death.

She was and still is a great inspiration for my playing and my teaching. She transmitted to me knowledge from her vast artistic experience as well as the one received from her own teachers that included Isidor Philipp – fact that made her a great-grand pupil of Chopin’s – and from Maurice Ravel in Paris.

In London she and her husband, Cyril Smith, were part of the élite of musicians of the time that included names such as Michael Tippet, Vaughan Williams, Arthur Bliss, who all wrote pieces especially for them. Her admiration for the music of Sergei Rachmaninoff, who was a personal friend of the couple, was unquestionable and she demonstrated a deep understanding of his music.

I have decided to play a programme that will include iconic works by Chopin, Ravel and Rachmaninoff in her honour as well as pieces from my new CD “Americas Without Frontiers”, copies of which you will be able to get on the night.

Dominic Seligman will read anecdotes from the life and work of Phyllis Sellcik; poet and Timothy Adès will read his English translation of the poem TIME OF MAN by Atahualpa Yupanqui and Leonardo Muller texts by Alejo Carpentier and Alfonsina Storni.

It is a privilege to still be able to make music in this world of ours!


Four Venezuelan waltzes:
Evencio Castellanos: Mañanita Caraqueña

Ramón Delgado Palacios: La dulzura de tu rostro

Maria Luisa Escobar: Noche de luna en Altamira

Teresa Carreño: Mi Teresita

Sergei Rachmaninoff: Three Preludes Op. 23

E flat No 6, G minor No 5, D major No 4

Frèdèric Chopin: Ballade Op. 23 No 1 in G minor


Ludovic Lamothe: La dangereuse

Germán Darío Pérez: Tranquilamente, un tipo leal

Germán Darío Pérez: Ancestro

Maurice Ravel: Pavane pour une enfante défunte

Maurice Ravel: Three pieces from Le Tombeau de Couperin:
Prelude – Menuet – Toccata

Ariel Ramírez: Alfonsina y el mar

Ernesto Lecuona: Malagueña

Image by Carlos David; Photography by Antolín Sánchez




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

New review on Moisés Moleiro CD by Clara Rodríguez


‘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