Teresa Carreño, la gran pianista venezolana por Clara Rodriguez

Este año Clara Rodríguez tocará varios conciertos dedicados a la memoria de la pianista venezolana Teresa Carreño (Caracas, 22 de diciembre de 1853 – Nueva York, 12 de junio de 1917), quien también fue cantante y compositora y  quien fuera descrita a lo largo de su vida como “Liszt en faldas”, “La emperatriz del piano”, “La valquiria del piano”

Teresa Carreño fue una de las más exitosas y admiradas pianistas de los siglos XIX y principios del XX, tocando conciertos alrededor del mundo y componiendo desde los 6 años de edad un total de 70 obras para piano; Muchas de ellas se publicaron en Europa y en los Estados Unidos.

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Teresa Carreño representó a la tercera generación de niños prodigios que habían ejercido la posición de “músicos meritorios”, carreras comenzadas desde por lo menos los 6 años de edad en la Catedral de Caracas como cantantes solistas, organistas y ejecutantes de instrumentos de cuerda y fue la primer músico de su familia en ganar reconocimiento fuera de Venezuela gracias a su primera presentación pública a los 8 años de edad, en el “Irving Hall” de Nueva York, el 25 de noviembre de 1862.

Era la tercera de los cinco hijos de Manuel Antonio Carreño (nacido el 17 de junio de 1813 ), conocido principalmente como abogado y ministro de finanzas y quien escribió el famoso Manual de urbanidad y buenos modales en 1853. Manuel Antonio era también músico y escribió unos 500 ejercicios para su hija los cuales ella tocaba regularmente en todas las tonalidades, logrando grandes beneficios y facilidad técnica desde temprana edad . También le enseñó armonía y composición.
La madre de Teresa Carreño, nacida de dos familias revolucionarias de Venezuela, era Clorinda García de Sena y Toro, pariente de la esposa de Simón Bolívar y del Marqués del Toro. El tío-abuelo de Teresa Carreño fue Simón Rodríguez, el maestro de Simón Bolívar y quien ejerciera gran influencia sobre El Libertador.

6.Teresa Carreño-niña. Boston 1863Teresa Carreño. Boston. USA. 1863

Al ver las habilidades musicales de Teresa Carreño y de tener la sensación de que su futuro debía trascender círculos más grandes, Gertrudis, su emprendedora abuela , vendió sus propiedades en Venezuela y en 1862 la familia se trasladó a Nueva York.
En ese entonces, Teresa Carreño fue escuchada por Louis Moreau Gottschalk, quien quedó muy impresionado por su estilo y se ofreció a darle lecciones, Teresita mostró a lo largo de su vida un gran respeto, cariño y admiración por el pianista.

5.Teresa Carreño. La Habana 1864Teresa Carreño. La Habana 1864

Al año siguiente, en 1863, en el mes de enero, se presentó en Boston y luego viajó a Cuba con su familia. Más tarde en el mismo año recibió una invitación de la Casa Blanca para tocar para el presidente Abraham Lincoln y su familia – ella encontró que el piano estaba “muy desafinado” pero que había sido una tarde “divertida”. También se sintió realmente orgullosa de ver su primera composición titulada “Gottschalk Waltz”, publicada. Dicha publicación se agotó tres veces en un año.

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Teresa Carreño y su familia se marcharon a Europa en marzo de 1866, el viaje fue una verdadera odisea, terriblemente difícil por mares muy agitados, en un barco defectuoso y en una ocasión tuvieron que inclusive cambiar de buque. Cuando finalmente llegaron a Inglaterra, permanecieron allí por un breve tiempo para luego seguir a París, en donde se instalaron. En la capital francesa fue muy bien acogida por los artistas más famosos, por la aristocracia de todos los salones y por las salas de conciertos más prestigiosas. Madame Erard y Rossini se aseguraron de que tuviera las mejores oportunidades para conocer a los músicos más admirados de la época, como Franz Liszt, quien llegó al salón de Madame Erard acompañado por el joven Camille Saint-Saëns y después de oír a la niña y poner sus manos sobre su cabeza le dijo: “Tienes un regalo enviado por Dios: Genio. Trabaja duro, desarrolla tu talento, sé fiel a ti misma y con el tiempo serás uno de nosotros.” Ofreció darle clases en Roma, pero su padre no pudo organizar ese viaje. Durante su tiempo en París, también tocó para Berlioz, ganó la admiración de Gounod y tuvo una amistad duradera con Blandine Ollivier, una de las hijas de Liszt.
En 1866, Teresa Carreño perdió a su madre quien murió víctima del cólera. En ese momento escribió seis elegías y tocó conciertos vestida de negro. Los críticos dijeron que cada nota que tocaba era como una lágrima de tristeza por su pérdida. Luego viajó a España con su padre y tocó conciertos en Madrid y Zaragoza. Toda España fue a escucharla excepto la familia Toro que consideraba que su madre, Clorinda, se había casado con un hombre de inferior rango social.

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Una gran parte de su obra fue publicada en París durante las décadas de 1860 y 1870 por Heugel.

Al mismo tiempo, en la ciudad Luz, el gran maestro Georges Mathias, discípulo de Chopin, se ofreció para enseñarle a la adolescente los secretos del arte de tocar el piano.

Teresa Carreño viajó a Inglaterra donde Charles Hallé la presentó a la Princesa de Gales y tocó también en las salas de conciertos Queen Rooms de Hanover Square, donde Anton Rubinstein fue a escucharla; Desde entonces se convirtió en su maestro. Él la llamaba “Mi Sol” y “Bebé”.

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En Londres así mismo tocó largas temporadas en el Covent Garden Theatre dirigido por Arthur Sullivan.
A la edad de veinte años Teresa Carreño se casó con el violinista francés Émile Sauret (1852 -1920). En 1874 tuvieron una hija, Emilita, que con mucha tristeza y pesar fue dada en adopción en Inglaterra; Su esposo la había abandonado y no podía ofrecer seguridad ni sustento al bebé. Su padre, Manuel Antonio, murió en París en agosto del mismo año; el periódico Le Ménestrel publicó una nota en donde decía que había sido uno de los maestros de piano más solicitados de Francia.

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Ella se trasladó a los Estados Unidos y continuó viajando y tocando incansablemente durante los años 70 y 80, pero deseaba un cambio en su vida artística y comenzó una carrera como cantante de ópera, debutando en Nueva York, en 1876, en el papel de Zerlina del Don Giovanni de Mozart. Ya en París el mismo Rossini había presentido que el talento de  Teresa Carreño para el belcanto sería algún día desarrollado. Su cambio hacia la ópera fue breve, intenso y muy exitoso.

Durante este tiempo se casó con su segundo marido, Giovanni Tagliapietra, un barítono nacido en Italia que bebía demasiado, sentía envidia del talento de su esposa haciéndo de la vida conyugal un tormento para Teresa. Tuvieron dos hijos: Teresita y Giovanni. En su edad adulta, Teresita se convirtió en una famosa pianista y Giovanni en cantante. Durante estos años, Teresa Carreño entabló amistad con Edward MacDowell, y promovió su música en los EE.UU. y en Europa y siempre contó con la amistad de la madre del compositor. Edward MacDowell le dedicó su segundo concierto para piano el cual ella insistía en tocar aún y cuando no fuera el favorito de los directores de orquesta.
En 1885, Teresa Carreño regresó por primera vez a su lugar de nacimiento, Venezuela. Allí actuó en conciertos y también compuso un himno en homenaje a Simón Bolívar. Al año siguiente, en su segundo viaje a Caracas, llevó una compañía de ópera, dirigió la orquesta y en ocasiones cantó también. Les Huguenots, Rigoletto, Norma y Carmen eran parte del afiche de la temporada la cual llegó a un final no muy feliz ya que la oposición de aquel momento tomó como blanco para hacer sus protestas el teatro en donde se efectúaba dicha temporada de ópera, ésto unido al rechazo de la alta sociedad caraqueña hacia ella porque decían que era pariente de Antonio Guzmán Blanco, político caído en desgracia en ese entonces le debe haber causado gran tristeza. Teresa Carreño nunca más se refirió al ese infortunado capítulo.

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Teresa Carreño regresó a Europa y empezó a tocar el piano otra vez en 1889, dando un nuevo impulso a su carrera musical. Pasó un verano en París y luego se mudó a Berlín donde se instaló. Hizo su primera actuación con la Filarmónica de Berlín, interpretando el Concierto para piano de Grieg recibiendo muchos elogios del propio compositor. En otra ocasión, en Varsovia, fue el mismo Edward Grieg quien la dirigió, él sentía profunda admiración por la pianista venezolana.
Entre 1892 y 1895 se casó con el pianista Eugen d’Albert, y juntos tuvieron dos hijas, Eugenia y Hertha. Teresa Carreño le dió gran apoyo a su marido, tocando sus composiciones y acompañádolo a sus conciertos; ella no recibió de él ese respaldo moral.

Eran dos grandes pianistas y compositores viviendo intensamente sus vidas y carreras artísticas bajo un mismo techo. El temperamento explosivo de ella no caló con el cinismo y -creo que hay que decirlo- machismo del pianista alemán.

Con un poco de humor la prensa reseñó en un momento:

“Ayer Frau Carreño dió la primera audición del segundo concierto de su tercer marido en el cuarto concierto de la Filarmónica.”

Después de un divorcio acrimonioso durante el cual el pianista quiso inclusive internarla en un manicomio con tal de no pagar la educación de sus hijas,  Teresa Carreño se dedicó a la composición escribiendo un cuarteto de cuerdas y una serenata.

“Uno nunca puede casarse demasiado tarde ni divorciarse demasiado pronto” se le oyó decir en un momento de amargura.
Comenzó a enseñar el piano y fue muy querida por sus estudiantes de Berlín, escribiendo un libro sobre la técnica de pedal.

Continuó actuando como solista con muchas de las principales orquestas europeas así como en recitales; su repertorio era muy impresionante e incluyía las Sonatas y conciertos de Beethoven, obras de Schumann como la Fantasía y los Etudes Symphoniques, las Baladas y Scherzi de Chopin, los grandes conciertos románticos; también sus propias transcripciones de ópera y sus valses.

En 1902, tomó la decisión de casarse con Arturo Tagliapietra, hermano de su segundo marido; Durante este período viajó a Sudáfrica, Australia y Nueva Zelanda.
Una vida llena de arduo trabajo y grandes emociones la agotaron físicamente.  En un viaje a Cuba comenzó a sufrir de diplopía, aún así ella tocó un concierto con sus ojos cerrados pero debió regresar a su casa de Nueva York en donde murió el 12 de junio de 1917. Gracias a grandes esfuerzos de su discípula y biógrafa Marta Milinowsky, sus cenizas fueron luego repatriadas a Venezuela y guardadas en el Panteón Nacional de Caracas.

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Teresa Carreño realizó varias presentaciones en los conciertos de Promenade de Henry Wood (Proms). Este escribió  en sus memorias: “Es difícil expresar adecuadamente lo que todos los músicos sentían por esta gran mujer que parecía una reina entre los pianistas y tocaba como una diosa. En el instante en que caminaba sobre el escenario, su firme dignidad mantenía a su audiencia en vilo que la observaba con gran atención mientras ella arreglaba la larga cola de los elegantes vestidos que usaba habitualmente. Su vigor masculino en el sonido, su touché y su maravillosa precisión al ejecutar pasajes de octavas dejaban a todos pasmados”.

El pianista Claudio Arrau recordó con alegría que él la había escuchado muchísimas veces en conciertos en Europa exclamando: “¡Oh! ¡Era una diosa!

Clara Rodríguez ha grabado un CD que contiene quince de las obras de Teresa Carreño para Nimbus Records (NI 6103) que ha sido internacionalmente elogiado por los críticos y el cual es a menudo reproducido en la radios incluyendo las estaciones de la BBC. El crítico Jeremy Nicholas de Gramophone Magazine escribió:

“Esta música necesita un espíritu de lleno de empatía para mostrarlo a su mejor luz y Clara Rodríguez ofrece interpretaciones de fascinante vivacidad aliadas al requisito más esencial de CHARM”.
Altamente recomendable”

https://www.gramophone.co.uk/review/clara-rodriguez-plays-teresa-carre%C3%B1o

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A Citizen of the World, The Venezuelan Pianist, Teresa Carreño by Clara Rodriguez

518tBu2ogTL._SS135_SL160_Clara Rodriguez has recorded a CD containing fifteen of works by Teresa Carreño for Nimbus Records NI 6103 which has been internationally praised by reviewers and is often played on radio networks including the BBC stations. The critic Jeremy Nicholas from Gramophone Magazine wrote:

“This music needs an empathetic spirit to show it to its best advantage and Clara Rodriguez provides performances of alluring vivacity allied to that most essential of requisites-CHARM.”
Highly recommended” https://www.gramophone.co.uk/review/clara-rodriguez-plays-teresa-carre%C3%B1o
Clara Rodriguez is also working on an edition of Fifteen Piano Works by Teresa Carreño that will shortly be available from Spartan Press.

This year Clara Rodriguez will be playing a number of concerts in memory of the Venezuelan pianist Teresa Carreño (Caracas December 22, 1853 – New York June 12, 1917) who was also a Singer and a Composer and who was variously described throughout her life as “Liszt in petticoats”, “The Empress of the piano”, “The Valkyrie of the piano”

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Teresa Carreño was one of the most accomplished pianists of the nineteenth and twentieth century, giving performances and concerts all over the world. She composed, since the age of 6 a total of 70 works for the piano; many of them were published in Europe and in the USA during her lifetime.
She represented the third generation of child prodigies that had held the position of “meritorious musicians” from at least 6 years of age in the Cathedral of Caracas as singer-soloists, organists and string players and was the first musician of her family to gain recognition outside Venezuela from her  highly acclaimed debut at 8 years of age, at the “Irving Hall”, New York, on November 25, 1862. She was the third of five children of Manuel Antonio Carreño (born June 17, 1813), mainly known as lawyer and minister of finance in Venezuela, who wrote an influential and widespread Manual of urbanity and good manners in 1853, Manuel Antonio was a trained musician too and wrote 500 exercises for his daughter that she played regularly in all keys, achieving great technical ease from an early age. He also taught her harmony and composition.

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Teresa Carreño’s mother was Clorinda García de Sena y Toro a relative of Simon Bolívar’s wife and her great-grand uncle was Simón Rodríguez who exerted great influence on Simón Bolívar and his quest to liberate South America.
Seeing Teresa Carreño’s musical abilities and feeling that her future should transcend in bigger circles, Gertrudis, her enterprising grandmother, sold her properties in Venezuela and in 1862 the family moved to New York.
It was during this time that she was heard by Louis Moreau Gottschalk, who was very impressed by her playing style and volunteered to give her lessons, Teresita showed throughout her life great respect and admiration for the pianist.

5.Teresa Carreño. La Habana 1864Teresa Carreño. La Habana 1864

The following year, in 1863, she performed in Boston, and then travelled to Cuba with her family. Later in the same year an invitation came from the White House to play for President Abraham Lincoln and his family – she found that the piano was “out-of-tune” but that it had been a “fun” afternoon. She also felt really proud to have her first composition titled “Gottschalk Waltz” published which sold many copies in a short time.

6.Teresa Carreño-niña. Boston 1863Teresa Carreño. Boston. USA. 1863

Teresita

Teresa and her family left for Europe in March, 1866 in a terribly difficult voyage over rough seas and on an occasion having to change vessels. When they finally reached England they remained there for a brief time to then travel to Paris where they settled. In the French capital she was made to feel welcome by the greatest artists playing in all the most prestigious salons and concert halls. Madame Erard and Rossini made sure she had the best opportunities to meet the most admired musicians of the time such as Franz Liszt who came to the salon accompanied by the young Camille Saint-Saëns, and after hearing the child and putting his hands on her head, said: “You have a God’s sent gift: Genius. Work hard, develop your talent, be true to yourself and in time you will be one of us” He offered to teach her in Rome but this was not possible to organize by her father. During her time in Paris, she also played for Berlioz, won the admiration of Gounod and had a lasting friendship with Blandine Ollivier, one of Liszt’s daughters.

In 1866, Teresa lost her mother who became a victim of cholera. At this time she wrote six elegies and played concerts wearing black. The critics said that every note she played was like a tear of sadness for her loss. She then travelled to Spain with her father and played concerts in Madrid and Zaragoza.
A large body of her work was published in Paris during the 1860s and 1870s by Heugel who was another admirer of her talent. The great teacher Georges Mathias, pupil of Chopin’s, volunteered to teach the girl giving her very important secrets of the art of piano playing.

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Teresa Carreño went to England where Charles Hallé introduced her to the Princess of Wales playing also in the Queen’s Concert Rooms of Hanover Square where Anton Rubinstein came to hear her; from then on he became her mentor and teacher. He used to call her “My Sunshine” and “Bebé”.
In London she also played long seasons in the Covent Garden Theatre conducted by Arthur Sullivan.

At the age of twenty Teresa Carreño married the French violinist Émile Sauret (1852 –1920). In 1874 they had a daughter, Emilita, who with much sadness and regret was given in adoption in England; her husband had abandoned her and she could not offer any security to the baby. Her father, Manuel Antonio, died in Paris in August of the same year. The newspaper Le Ménestrel said that he had been one of the most sought after piano teachers of France.

She moved to the USA and went on indefatigably touring during the 70s and 80s but she wished for a change and started to pursue a career as an opera singer, debuting in New York, in 1876, as Zerlina, in Mozart’s Don Giovanni. Her switch over to opera was brief and successful. During this time she married her second husband, Giovanni Tagliapietra, an Italian-born baritone who drank too much and was jealous of his wife’s talent. They had two children—Teresita and Giovanni; Teresita became a famous pianist later in her life. During these years she became acquainted with Edward MacDowell. She championed his music in the USA and in Europe. MacDowell dedicated his Second Piano Concerto to her. She made a point of playing this concerto even if it was not favoured by many of the conductors or critics of the time!

In 1885 and in 1886, Teresa visited her birthplace, Venezuela. There she performed in concerts and also composed a hymn in tribute to Simón Bolívar.
She also managed an opera company and conducted the orchestra, in occasions singing as well. Les Huguenots, Carmen, Rigoletto and Norma were favourites.

Teresa returned to Europe and started to perform the piano again in 1889, giving a new boost to her music career. She spent a summer in Paris and with money lent by her USA friends she could moved to Berlin where she settled, she had been dreaming of finding a public and a country that understood and loved classical music. Teresa gave her first performance with the Berlin Philharmonic, playing Grieg’s Piano Concerto receiving much praise from the composer himself, “Madam I never knew that my music was so beautiful” He also conducted her in different occasions.
Between 1892 and 1895 she was married to pianist Eugen d’Albert, and together they had two daughters, Eugenia and Hertha.

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In Germany, women were not treated as equals and although Carreño gave ample support to her husband by playing his compositions wherever she went and being present in his most important concerts he did not return her kindness; two great pianists together under one roof did not make for a happy home.

There was room in the press for some humour though:
“Yesterday Frau Carreño played for the first time the second concerto by her third husband during the fourth Philharmonic concert”

Teresa’s explosive temperament next to d’Albert’s sarcasm resulted  in a third divorce for Carreño; He tried every trick possible to avoid his responsabilities towards the maintenance to their daughters, even trying to have her locked-up in a mental institution.

In a bitter moment she would tell a friend: “One can never marry too late or divorce too soon!”

She turned to composition for solace and during her summer holidays, wrote a string quartet and a serenade.

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Teresa Carreño started teaching the piano and was much loved by her Berlin students, her Berlin sons and daughters, writing also a book on pedalling technique.

She also continued to perform with many major European orchestras. Her repertoire was very impressive and included the Beethoven Concertos and Sonatas, Schumann Fantasy and Etudes Symphoniques, Chopin Concertos, Ballades and Scherzi, and also her own opera transcriptions and waltzes.

In 1902, she took the decision to marry Arturo Tagliapietra, her second husband’s brother; and travelled to South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.
She ignored her optitian’s warnings that she should stop playing and take a rest. In a trip to Cuba she suffered an eye haemorrhage and died on the 12th of June 1917 in her New York home. Her ashes were later repatriated to Venezuela and are kept at the Panteón Nacional in Caracas.

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She performed several times at the Henry Wood’s promenade concerts. He wrote in his memoires: “It is difficult to express adequately what all musicians felt about this great woman who looked like a queen among pianists – and played like a goddess. The instant she walked onto the platform her steady dignity held her audience who watched with riveted attention while she arranged the long train she habitually wore. Her masculine vigour of tone and touch and her marvellous precision on executing octave passages carried everyone completely away.”

Pianist Claudio Arrau recalled the joy of once hearing her performance by exclaiming, “Oh! She was a goddess!”

Brahms on Carreño: “You are not a lady pianist you are a MAN pianist”

@Clara Rodriguez

Rhapsody in Blue at St. Martin in-the-Fields, Recital by Clara Rodriguez 14-04-2015

Clara Rodríguez, piano recital
St. Martin in-the-Fields
Trafalgar Square
London

Tuesday 14 April 2015 at 7.30 pm

Programme notes by Clara Rodríguez

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770- 1827) Tempest Sonata Op. 31, No. 2

Largo-Allegro Adagio Allegretto

The Piano Sonata No. 17 in D minor, Op. 31, No. 2, was composed in 1801/02. It is usually referred to as “The Tempest” (or Der Sturm in his native German). The nickname comes from a claim that the tormented inspiration of the first movement, refers to Shakespeare’s play. Beethoven recommended its reading in his reply to his associate Anton Schindler who asked him about the meaning of the sonata. According to my teacher Paul Badura-Skoda it is a sonata that is addressed to the soul and one of Beethoven’s great masterpieces, an original and powerful piece representing a decisive influence on the Romantic composers.

The first movement Largo-Allegro, is the boldest and most innovative of the three, it presents a free structure and sudden changes of tempo. Sombre recitativo cells next to quick quaver passages and an agitated subject share space in this most menacing movement. The Adagio contrasts with the chaotic feeling of the first movement with serenity and calmness, a sort of balm, with a beautiful hymn like melody.

The Allegretto despite having the appearance of a rondo is actually in sonata form. As an anecdote Czerny, his pupil, explains that it is possible that its initial rhythmic figure was inspired by a horse gallop. Its start echoes Fur Elise and some say that its gentle rocking-like rhythm is reminiscent of the infinite motion of the sea. It contrasts with the other movements in that it does not present human passion, the ending is restraint giving a sensation of simplicity.

Wilhelm Kempff says about this sonata that “the human voice of the first movement was carried off by the tempest and alone dominates the eternal sea”

Johannes Brahms (1833 -1897) Six Pieces Op 118

The Six Pieces for Piano Op. 118, are, according to Paul Badura-Skoda, “Late Autumn-harvest fruit.” Completed in 1893 and dedicated to Clara Schumann, the collection was the second to last composition to be published during Brahms’ lifetime. The six pieces are:

No. 1. Intermezzo in A minor. Allegro non assai, ma molto appassionato

No. 2. Intermezzo in A major. Andante teneramente

No. 3. Ballade in G minor. Allegro energico

No. 4. Intermezzo in F minor. Allegretto un poco agitato

No. 5. Romance in F major. Andante

No. 6. Intermezzo in E flat minor. Andante, largo e mesto

The first is a passionate prelude, the second intermezzo an intimate love song which enters and fades with an un-answered question “Warum?” “How so?” and contrasts against the defiant Ballade that follows it. The fourth intermezzo is based on canonic imitation which has the effect of your own shadow being chased by an unescapable ghostly follower. The Romance hints at a love song, the beloved one however is Death, how gentle is its lullaby. The concluding piece of the cycle is one of the most powerful works in piano literature; “Vanity, everything is vanity” seems to be the message of the main motive. The middle section evokes an apocalyptic vision, night riders approaching, bringing war, woe and destruction taking the music to an exclamation outcry of pain that gradually dies away. Despite its gloom, the music leaves an effect of catharsis.

Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849) Two Études:
Op. 25 No 1
Op. 10 No5

All twenty-seven études were published during Chopin’s lifetime; they were composed between 1829 and 1836 and represent some of the most challenging pieces of the pianistic repertoire dealing with nearly every difficulty possible in an amazingly musical and poetic way. They are studied by pianists to develop virtuoso technique but they are also performed in concerts.

The Étude Op. 10, No. 5, in G-flat major, was composed in 1830 and was first published in 1833 in France, Germany, and England as the fifth piece of his Études Op. 10. This work is characterized by rapid triplet figuration played by the right hand exclusively on black keys. This melodic figuration is accompanied by the left hand in staccato chords and octaves.

The Étude Op. 25, No. 1 in A-flat major was composed in 1836, and published in 1837. The work consists entirely of rapid arpeggios and harmonic modulations based on A-flat major. Robert Schumann praised this work in a dissertation on the Études; calling it “a poem rather than a study”, and nicknamed it “Aeolian Harp”

INTERVAL

Miguel Astor (1958- ) Two Venezuelan waltzes:
Adriana
Creciente –World Première

These two Venezuelan waltzes by Venezuelan composer Miguel Astor, Adriana (1987) and Creciente (2005) belong to his ample catalogue of piano music. The first one is dedicated to his wife and the second one, to me. Astor’s style of composing varies according to the medium he happens to be writing for. Miguel Astor was a pupil of Yanis Ioannidis, Modesta Bor and Antonio Mastrogiovanni in Caracas, which results in a mixture of very diverse influences, notwithstanding, his is a very recognizable Venezuelan idiom.

Miguel Astor was born in Caracas in 1958, studied Arts at the Universidad Central de Venezuela and has PhDs in Latin American Musicology and in History. He has taught in many of the conservatories and universities and conducts several choirs in Caracas. He has written for choir, chamber music and orchestra.

Federico Ruiz (1948- ) Carmen Rosa
Zumba que zumba

Federico Ruiz was born in Caracas in 1948, where he trained as an accordionist and as a composer at the Escuela Superior de Música. He is a much loved composer with a vast compositional output, containing an interesting eclecticism of techniques, forms and different media. Its scope ranges from electro acoustic music to large orchestral works, taking in, along the way, numerous piano pieces, chamber pieces, and the music for many films and plays. He has also written a trumpet concerto, two piano concertos, and two operas (Los Martirios de Colón and La mujer de espalda)
Carmen Rosa is originally the incidental music of a play that I saw in Caracas and begged Federico to write for the piano.
Zumba que zumba was written between 2002 and 2003. It is based on folk themes, using as a reference the pattern of the zumba que zumba type of joropo, which has a particular harmonic sequence, on which variations are created. He kindly dedicated it to me.

George Gershwin (1898- 1937) Rhapsody in blue

“It was on the train, with its steely rhythms, its rattle-ty bang, that is so often so stimulating to a composer – I frequently hear music in the very heart of the noise…. And there I suddenly heard, and even saw on paper – the complete construction of the Rhapsody, from beginning to end. No new themes came to me, but I worked on the thematic material already in my mind and tried to conceive the composition as a whole. I heard it as a sort of musical kaleidoscope of America, of our vast melting pot, of our unduplicated national pep, of our metropolitan madness. By the time I reached Boston I had a definite plot of the piece”. This was what Georges Gershwin told his biographer Isaac Goldberg in 1931 about the composition which he started on January 7 for two pianos; it came into existence thanks to the band leader Paul Whiteman who asked George Gershwin to write a piece that combined classical and jazz elements in the search of creating a North American idiom .

The working title was “American Rhapsody”. The title Rhapsody in Blue was suggested by Ira Gershwin after his visit to a gallery exhibition of James McNeill Whistler paintings, which bear titles such as Nocturne in Black and Gold and Arrangement in Grey and Black. After a few weeks, Gershwin finished his composition and passed the score to Paul Whiteman’s arranger Ferde Grofé, who orchestrated the piece, finishing it on February 4, only eight days before the première which took place at the in Aeolian Hall in New York City with Paul Whiteman and his band Palais Royal Orchestra and George Gershwin at the piano in a concert entitled An Experiment in Modern Music where many important and influential composers of the time such as Sergei Rachmaninoff, were present.

The piece was an instant success with the public and has become North America’s best known and representative musical work. The influences of jazz and other contemporary styles are certainly present: ragtime rhythms are abundant, as is the Cuban “clave” rhythm, which doubles as a dance rhythm in the Charleston jazz dance.

Clara Rodriguez, pianist
Clara Rodriguez is one of the most distinguished of the present generation of international artists. Her fascinating way of programming has consistently contrasted traditional classical music with the output of South American composers. Since coming to London at seventeen to study at the Royal College of Music with Phyllis Sellick, she has performed to great acclaim as a soloist at Southbank Centre, Wigmore Hall, Barbican Centre and at St John’s Smith Square. Clara Rodriguez has also studied with Guiomar Narváez, Niel Immelman and Paul Badura-Skoda. In Caracas, aged sixteen she made her debut playing Mozart Piano Concerto No 27 with the Simón Bolívar Orchestra under the baton of José Antonio Abreu; from then on Clara Rodriguez’s career as a concert pianist has taken her to tour in Europe, India, Egypt, Tunisia and the Americas. Her playing is described as highly expressive, sensitive with considerable digital clarity and stylistic acumen. Glowing reviews are regularly written about her concerts and discography on the Nimbus label which includes CDs of the piano music of composers such as Ernesto Lecuona, Moises Moleiro, Federico Ruiz and Teresa Carreño “Clara Rodriguez provides performances of alluring vivacity allied to thatmost essential of requisites-CHARM.” Gramophone

She has also published a collection of dances by 18 different composers in her CD “VENEZUELA” of which critic Jeremy Nicholas wrote “Clara Rodriguez makes the most of her innate feel for the exuberant and languorous, dispatching the toe-tapping cross-rhythms with panache and a light touch. A treasure chest from which to cherry pick” Other CDs by Clara Rodriguez are Chopin Late Works and Clara Rodriguez & El Cuarteto Live in concert in Caracas.

She has commissioned and premièred many works including Federico Ruiz’s Second Piano Concerto which she recorded with the Orquesta Municipal de Caracas and played last year in the celebrations of the 39th El Sistema Anniversary.

Clara Rodriguez is a repertoire adviser to the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music and has edited piano albums for Spartan Press Publishers.

Clara Rodriguez teaches the piano at the JD of the Royal College of Music.

Her 2014 Saint Martin-in-the Fields recital “Appassionata Sonata by candlelight” was received with a standing ovation from the large audience. The following comment gives a good insight into the programme played:

“World music indeed! The concept could not have become more clear in our minds after listening to Clara Rodriguez interpretations of works by Bach, Beethoven, Prokofiev, Albéniz, Villa-Lobos, the Venezuelans Teresa Carreño, Luisa Elena Paesano and the Argentinean Ariel Ramírez. Clara’s expressive and powerful performances conveyed great lyricism to a magnetized audience entwining the works of these composers in a unity of spirituality in time and space at Saint Martin-in-the-Fields. Clara Rodriguez has again demonstrated that musical poetry is a universal means of communication. A true tour de force, an unforgettable evening.”

“Clara Rodriguez’s vibrant temperament and her rhythmic èlan mark her out as a leading exponent of Latin American music. She is a very special artist.”
RCM Professor Niel Immelman

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Una noche con Clara Rodríguez y Chopin en Kew

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La pianista venezolana residenciada en Londres tocó el Sábado 7 de Febrero en el distrito de Richmond llamado Kew, lugar mundialmente conocido gracias a el parque botánico Kew Gardens.
El concierto, a sala llena, se llevó a cabo en la hermosísima iglesia construida en 1714 de Santa Ana bajo los auspicios e invitación de la Sinfonia de Kew dirigida por el maestro inglés Marc Dooley.
Clara Rodríguez fue la solista en el famoso Concierto No 1 de Federico Chopin. El público demostró su reconocimiento a la artista ofreciendole una larga ovación y enviándole mensajes de felicitaciones.
En oportunidades anteriores Marc Dooley y Clara Rodríguez han compartido el escenario en la interpretación del Concierto de Schumann en La menor y en el Tercer Concierto de Sergei Rachmaninoff en la sala St. John’s Smith Square.

Clara Rodríguez se presenta regularmente en Europa y en Venezuela. En el 2014 tocó dos conciertos celebratorios del 39 aniversario de la fundación del Sistema de Orquestas de Venezuela y con la Orquesta Municipal de Caracas.
Próximas presentaciones incluyen conciertos en St. Martin in-the-Fields (14 de Abril), Purcell Room del Southbank Centre (7 de Junio) y con la Orquesta Típica Nacional en la Sala José Fálix Ribas (25 de Julio).

El catálogo de CDs grabados por Clara Rodríguez para el prestigioso sello Nimbus Records contiene álbumes de la música para piano de Teresa Carreño, Moisés Moleiro, Federico Ruiz, “VENEZUELA” y de Ernesto Lecuona. Independientemente ha producido discos de música de Federico Chopin y con El Cuarteto en vivo.

Clara Rodríguez es profesora de piano en el Royal College of Music de Londres.

“Sólo hay una palabra para la actuación de anoche donde Clara Rodríguez tocó el Concierto No 1 de Federico Chopin : magnífico ! Qué inspirador fue escuchar esa música maravillosa en una interpretación impecable, con tanta sensibilidad. Yo estaba realmente conmovido, hasta las lágrimas, y le doy las gracias . La Sinfonia de Kew en general muy competente pero al tocar con Clara se elevó a un nivel superior , acompañándola con gran sincronización y musicalidad . El director, Marc Dooley estuvo excelente, también. Una noche inolvidable”  William Roberts

Pasamos ayer una maravillosa velada musical con la sinfonía de Kew y sobre todo con la magnífica interpretación de Chopin por Clara Rodríguez. Qué gran talento de pianista, su brillantez y su sonrisa. Ciertamente no es sólo la técnica y el árduo trabajo , sino también la vitalidad y una gran jovialidad . ¡Qué alegría para nosotros los espectadores
pasar este momento excepcional!”

Fue fabuloso! Realmente genial – Me había olvidado de lo difícil, largo y bello que es ese concierto.
No puedo creer que te lo hayas aprendido en tan pocos meses. Realmente es un gran trabajo y
has dado en el clavo! Realmente hermoso .Fue una gran noche – debes
tocar ese concierto de nuevo – es tan bonito.

Muchas gracias Clara, ¡fue realmente sublime!

FELICITACIONES…TU TE TRANSPORTAS ANTE EL PIANO HACIENDOLO PARTE DE TI1514398_10152595952630474_647112411918863701_nFotografía por Gabriella Bello10701_10152595958530474_4442149006726930819_n

Clara Rodriguez, a short biography

I was born in Caracas to parents sensitive to the arts. My father was a polemic writer who lived a tormentous life. Sadly he died in 2000 at the age of 64. My parents divorced when I was very young , so my mother  raised my sister Valentina, and I in the best possible way that a mother can: with lots of love, sacrificing her time, and taking me to music school from the age of 7.
I had a great childhood, fantastic and fun training, although strict, at the Conservatorio Juan José Landaeta, located in a beautiful old villa within a residential area of the city.
There were some good old grand pianos and a lovely smell of polished woods and exotic plants. There was a friendly atmosphere and my very elegant piano teacher, Guiomar Narváez introduced me to the great composers through a diet of lots of studies by Hanon, Czerny and the whole spectrum of the European repertoire. She had studied in Caracas and in Vienna. My harmony teacher was composer Angel Sauce, who also the director of the Conservatory.
When I was sixteen I participated in an audition organized by Carlos Díaz Sosa, the judges Michael Gough Matthews and Barbara Boissard had  flown in from the UK. I remember playing a Prelude and Fugue from the Book II of the W.T.C. by J.S. Bach, Chopin Study Op.10 No 1, Reflets dans l’eau by Debussy. They granted me a scholarship to come to study at London’s Royal College of Music  and it was decided that I should have Phyllis Sellick as my teacher. I am ever so grateful to them!
I spent a year at the Junior Department and six at the senior. Phyllis Sellick was my mentor, she was so inspirational, a combination of intellect and imagination, Romanticism and rigour. She had studied with Isidor Phillip and Maurice Ravel in Paris. As an adult, Rachmaninov  was one of her close acquaintances. She was sweet, very intelligent and had the highest standards in piano playing I have ever come across. All the major English composers dedicated piano works to her including Arthur Bliss, Michael Tippet and Vaughan Williams.

Paul Badura-Skoda, Regina Smendzianka and Niel Immelman have also inspired me with their knowledge of piano playing and have had a fundamental influence on me as keep having my pianists friends such as Barry Douglas.

I love playing abroad, but it can also be a bit daunting; the music you play and love at home might not be what people of different cultures might like, or so I used to think. Going to far away countries and cultures like exotic India, Tunisia, Morocco, Syria, Egypt to play a mixture of  European and Latin American music used to worry me a little, but taught me that people everywhere are eager and happy to receive it. Playing in Europe or the United States has also been really interesting and enriching.

I greatly enjoy performing solo recitals, as well as being a soloist with  orchestras; playing with incredibly talented musicians in ensembles of Classical or Latin American music is always fulfilling and an infinite learning curve.

Sharing the stage with actors as I have with Karin Fernald or Alberto Rowinski in productions of our own such as “Liszt in petticoats” (dedicated to Teresa Carreño) and “Con-cierto humor” has been lovely because I have learnt from their artistic field to listen to the way they deliver their lines so beautifully.

Gypsy Ballade” was another fantastic show that I loved producing and performing alongside Marisela Romero and José Manuel Garzón, actors/dancers that came from Spain. It was inspired by Federico Garcia Lorca’s poetry, songs and life mixed with readings from his journals, in English, by Karen Fernald and a fabulous stage decor by French artist Jacques Iselin. I played a number of piano pieces from the Andalusian region of Spain.

In 2011 I was very fortunate in that I wrote and performed my own “Franz Liszt” ; this took place in Caracas with fantastic actor Caridad Canelón and narrated by Miguel Delgado-Estévez , a really beautiful experience.

In relation to music and words, I have a dream of producing in the near future The Passionate Life of Isaac Albeniz which will be based on a script written by Trader Faulkner.

Recording CDs is also part of my activities, I find that making them is immensely rewarding but also very difficult. Up to now I have produced and recorded five Venezuelan music CDs, another one of Late Piano Works by Chopin, and the piano music by Ernesto Lecuona.

I am particularly fond of the release El Cuarteto and me produced of a live concert performed in Caracas five years ago, it is a collection of dances and songs from Venezuela.

Frequently I am asked to participate in interviews on the radio, the written press and on TV; the programme In Tune on BBC 3 is one of the loveliest to do because one both plays, and talks ‘live’ on it. As a child, my first ever TV live performance was done in Caracas where I remember playing two very fast Scarlatti Sonatas; then I had fun appearing next to pianist Rosario Marciano as well as playing on a TV programme dedicated to the history of the piano at the Museo del Teclado of Caracas.

In 1993 up to 1998 I founded and directed a music festival in Caracas at the Teatro San Martín. It was wonderful to see the project come to life in an area of Caracas where before there had not been any music.

Lately I curated, produced and directed the Clara Rodriguez Bolivar Hall Concert Series in London and the “Legendary Piano Festival of Caracas” to celebrate the aquisition of a fabulous concert grand-Steinway that belonged first to the Royal Festival Hall and now lives in the Sala José Félix Ribas. Something I am very proud of as I had the responsability of finding the piano and organizing every detail of the festival.

Composers such Federico Ruiz, Miguel Astor, Adrián Suárez, Mirtru Escalona, Lawrence Casserley, Michael Rosas Cobián and Juan Carlos Núñez have written and dedicated pieces to me, for that gesture I am deeply grateful and I have tried to do justice to their marvellous effort and creative talent by recording and playing their music in public concerts. Sometimes as publishing editor as in the case of the Pieces for Children under 100 years of age by Federico Ruiz (Spartan Press and The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music)

I have enjoyed playing a dozen solo recitals and concerts with friends at the Southbank Centre, some others at Wigmore Hall, St. Martin-In-The-Fields and a number of concertos at St. John’s Smith Square, including Ravel in G, Rachmaninov 3rd, Schumann in A minor, Nights in the Gardens of Spain and Federico Ruiz’s Second Piano Concerto.

I have also produced and performed “In the mood for tango”, “Tangoitis”, “Monnlight Sonata by Candlelight”, “Latin Bach” and “Appassionata Sonata by Candlelight”.

For the last eight years I have taught the piano at the Junior Department of the Royal College of Music of London, an activity that gives me much joy and allows me to be in touch with lovely emerging talents.

I consider myself very lucky to count with wonderful passionate artists that work lovingly on my leaflets, CD covers and general image such as the photographers Antolín Sánchez, Jean-Luc Muller and Sogand Bahram, graphic designers Carlos David and Gabriella Bello and dress designer Valentina Rodríguez.

My CDs are available on the Nimbus Records label from: http://www.wyastone.co.uk/all-labels/nimbus/classical.html?instrumentalist=2499 or from Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Clara-Rodriguez/e/B004RV4JQE/ref=ac_dpt_sa_bio

You can listen to some of my recordings or live performances on my Youtube channel:  http://www.youtube.com/user/Venpianista

You can also communicate with me through:

My website http://www.clararodriguez.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/VENPIANISTA

and my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pianoclararodriguez?ref=hl

Clara Rodriguez/Antolin Sanchez photography