Furiously rhythmical -My next London concert is on June 7th at 4.00 pm

SouthBank-RGBHow can one explain that some pieces are delicious to play? I can only suggest to travel as far as the Southbank Centre which is much nearer than say Caracas or Buenos Aires to listen and feel that the sounds have a third dimension, that they can be palpable and can be savoured; does it make sense? Please let me know after you’ve been.

I love every bit of the pieces we shall be performing on the afternoon of Sunday 7th June at 4.00 pm at the very prestigious Southbank Centre, one of those London landmarks that I have been visiting since I was a student at the Royal College of Music and where I have had the priviledge of performing regularly since 1992. Since the date and the time are so joyous, a sunny Sunday afternoon, I thought that only a programme full of idem pieces could fit the bill.

Commencing by two magnificent pieces by Albéniz, Evocation and El Puerto, I think that I set the mood evoking past times pregnant with nostalgia as well as the happiness of the music that has dance elements in its core followed by two Argentinean dances by Alberto Ginastera, again two contrasting gems of the piano repertoire. The waltz Adriana by my friend Miguel Astor will be performed just before Gerswihn’s Rhapsody in Blue. After this wonderful well-known piece, I shall be joined by my musician friends to give an account of the beautiful and sad zamba by Ariel Ramírez, Alfonsina y el mar and to follow with the feminine touch, we shall perform Pajarillo by another dear friend, composer Luisa Elena Paesano, the public will feel the happiness of the Venezuelan sunshine in sounds!

The journey will continue down to Brazil with a famous choro by Ernesto Nazareth, Odeon, to then round off  this first half with the popular Joropo by Moisés Moleiro.

Plantio do caboclo by Heitor Villa-Lobos opens the second half to give way to more chorinhos or Brazilian tangos as Nazareth really called them. Colombian music will be represented here by two compositions by Germán Darío Pérez, jazzy but traditional at the same time, his pasillo and bambuco are based on typical rhythms from his country with what we detect as an influence of the genre created by Aldemaro Romero called Onda Nueva.

I have included too the famous Malagueña by the Cuban Ernesto Lecuona redolent of Andalucian feeling and the brilliant Zumba que zumba by Federico Ruiz.

To end this marvellous journey we plan to première a piece by the very young composer Carlos Pérez Tabares, originally written for the piano but under my request he has kindly arranged it by adding the cuatro and the double bass to it, Wilmer and Ernesto have added the percussion and drums. It is called Merengada de pajarillo. I’ll explain more about it in the concert. It is really interesting and exciting…ok, it is a Venezuelan merengue inspired by the joropo called Pajarillo.

In sum it is a very special programme that mixes nostalgic, expressive pieces with fast and happy rhythmical ones . Much of this music is characterized by virtuosity, improvisation, subtle harmonies and it is full of syncopation!

I really hope that you will get a lot of the enjoyment we feel when we perform it.

For tickets and more information: http://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/whatson/clara-rodriguez-piano-recital-90186

Clara Rodriguez, piano

Cristóbal Soto, guitar, cuatro, mandolin

Ernesto Marichales, drums

Wilmer Sifontes, percussion

Marius Pibot, double-bass

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Journey of a Steinway grand – From London to Caracas

In February 2012 Professor Jose Antonio Naranjo kindly asked me to help The National Music Company to purchase a piano for the Sala José Félix Ribas of the Teresa Carreño Complex. My heart skipped a beat! Professor Naranjo had been after this idea for 3 years until finally the then Minister for Culture Pedro Calzadilla approved the funds. I immediately made a small list of piano technicians I know in London and as soon as I got home in Wimbledon I met with Peter Salisbury.

To explain who Mister Salisbury is I will go back to the year 1989 when I played my first recital at the Purcell Room – Royal Festival Hall Room of the Southbank Centre in London. Peter Salisbury has been one of the technicians of that important cultural centre for about 25 years. He is one of the 5 or 6 technicians internationally with the level capable of servicing pianos for the greatest pianists and who is constantly on call from recording labels and other concert venues such as the Sydney Opera House, to name just one of them.

Peter Salisbury entered  Steinway  house as an apprentice at fifteen, ten years later he was considered to be a professional. What is this training about? Peter explains that he spent three years learning to tune, three more years learning to handle and make every part of the machinery of the instrument and as many years learning the art of calibrating each sound to perfection as well as the resistance of each key and making sure that the balance is equalized. It is the work of a craftsman with  artististic sensitivity . Peter is passionate about pianos and piano work. His life has been dedicated to achieving a level of perfection so that pianists can perform on instruments in which they can play dynamics that can go from subtle pianissimos to the most powerful fortissimos and most importantly, so that we can do the full range of nuances that good pianists know to exist between those extremes. Colours, shadows, different kinds of embossing musical phrases is what we seek when we perform in order to give life to the musical works. That, in my oppinion is the true artistic purpose of good pianists … or at least those from the old school!

Peter Salisbury complained a few days ago because he says that that tradition which comes from the greatest such as Chopin, Liszt, Clara Schumann is dying and he attributes the blame to the international competitions that reward those who play fast and loud, busting strings and un-tuning the pianos from the first notes they touch because they do not care much for producing sublime sounds through relaxation, but practically these are characters that could be defined as pugilists or “musical athletes”.

In my case, I had the joy of playing pianos served by Peter in about 15 concerts with great works from the universal repertoire such as the Sonata in B minor by Liszt as well as Chopin, Schubert, Brahams, Beethoven, Mozart without forgetting that I premiered many works by authors such as Federico Ruiz, Mirtru Escalona, ​​Alfredo Rugeles, Ricardo Lorenz and was able to perform Venezuelan and South American music for the wonderful London audiences there in the Southbank Centre.
The experience has always been the best you can have as a concert pianist. To have an instrument where the interpreter can let his/hers imagination loose and where the interpreter can concentrate deeper because we know that we can let the music speak as we thought, we can make our true interpretation of the selected works.

So I did not hesitate in contacting Peter Salisbury for this project of finding the best possible piano for Venezuela .

I have to say that I went to Steinway House in Marylebone Lane and they told me that Venezuela could not buy an European piano, they had to get an American one!, well, we all know the difference! specially in the tropics, humidity does cause horrible effects on the American Steinways.

By good fortune the Southbank Centre is in a period of renewal and this is one of the pianos they wanted to sell. Peter restored it and built a second mechanism or extra action which can be applied and removed with ease. The advantage of this innovation is that it doubles the life of the instrument, in addition there is a difference in timbre or colour.

I am infinetly grateful to our dear “Toñito” Naranjo who has believed in my word and after eighteen months of red tape, elections, the President’s death, new elections, new President, hundreds of emails, linked to the tenacity the love for my country has given me, the dream of having here an instrument of this quality plus the constant moral support from Peter Slisbury and the members of the National Music Company, I HAVE TO BREATH, the piano is ready to be performed in an inauguration on August 9, 2013 at 6.00 pm.

Among the pianists who have also played concerts and recorded piano CDs on the piano in question are Eugene Kissin, Maurizio Pollini, Alfred Brendel, Barry Douglas … yours truly.

Apart from the professional relationship I have with Peter Salisbury there are two important anecdotes: he was for many years the technitian of my piano teacher in London, Phyllis Sellick and Peter ten years ago, married a pianist and my great friend for over twenty years, Eva Maria Alexandre.

Travesía de un piano Steinway- De Londres a Caracas.

En Febrero del 2012 el Profesor José Antonio Naranjo me pidió de una manera muy cordial que consiguiera un piano para la Compañía Nacional de Música que ya el Ministro Pedro Calzadilla había aprobado el presupuesto. Los ojos me brillaron. Inmediatamente hice una lista de los técnicos de piano que conozco en Londres y al regresar a mi casa de Wimbledon me reuní con Peter Salisbury.

Para explicar quien es Mister Salisbury me remontaré al año de 1989 cuando toqué mi primer recital en la sala Purcell Room-Royal Festival Hall del Southbank Centre de Londres. Peter Salisbury ha sido uno de los técnicos de ese improtantísimo centro cultural por aproximadamente 25 años. Él es uno de los 5 o 6 técnicos con el nivel internacional que es capaz de afinar para los más grandes pianístas y quien es llamado por otras salas de conciertos como por ejemplo la Ópera de Sydney, por no comenzar a hacer largas listas. Peter Salisbury entró a la casa Steinway como aprendíz a los quince años salió hecho todo un profesional a los veinticinco. ¿En qué consiste ese entrenamiento? él me explica que pasó tres años aprendiendo a afinar, tres aprendiendo a manejar y hacer cada parte de la maquinaria del intrumento y otros tantos años aprendiendo el arte de calibrar a la perfección cada sonido asi como la resistencia de cada tecla para que el balance esté ecualizado. Es el trabajo de un artesano con oído de artísta. Peter es un apasionado de los pianos y del trabajo pianístico. Su vida se la ha dedicado a lograr que los pianístas podamos tocar instrumentos en donde se puedan hacer desde los Pianissimos más sutiles hasta los Fortissimos mas poderosos y lo más importante, que podamos hacer toda la gama de matices que un buen pianista sabe que existe entre esos extremos. Colores, sombras, relieves, tímbres diferentes es lo que nosotros los artístas perseguimos cuando tocamos para así darle la vida que se merecen las obras. Allí está el verdadero sentido artístico de los buenos pianístas…o por lo menos los de la vieja escuela!

Peter Salisbury se quejaba hace unos días porque dice que esa tradición que nos viene de los más grandes como Chopin, Liszt, Clara Schumann está muriéndose y le achaca la culpa a los concursos internacionales que premian a los que tocan más rápido y que revientan cuerdas al tocar debido a que no producen el sonido a través de la relajación, buscando la belleza sonora sino que practicamente son personajes que se pueden definir como pugilistas o “atletas musicales”.

En mi caso, he tenido la dicha de tocar en pianos servidos por Peter unos 15 recitales con obras del gran repertorio universal como la Sonata en Si menor de Liszt, así como Sonatas de Chopin, Schubert, Beethoven, Mozart sin olvidar que he estrenado muchas  obras de autores como Federico Ruiz, Mirtru Escalona, Alfredo Rugeles, Ricardo Lorenz y he podido mostrarle al maravilloso público londinense música de Venezuela y del resto de Sur América y el Caribe.
La experiencia siempre ha sido la mejor que puede tener un concertista. Contar con un instrumento así hace volar la imaginación del intérprete y ayuda a la concentración más profunda ya que sabemos que podemos dejar hablar a la música como la hemos pensado, podemos hacer nuestra verdadera interpretación de las obras escogidas.

Por eso no dudé en contactarlo con el proyecto de encontrar para Venezuela el mejor piano posible.

Por gran suerte nuestra el Southbank Centre está en un período de renovación y Peter consiguió que el Royal Festival Hall le vendiera ese piano por el que empezamos a  luchar. Él lo restauró y además le construyó una máquina o acción extra la cual se puede  poner y quitar con facilidad. La importancia que ésta ventaja tiene es que por medio de esa innovación se duplica la vida del instrumento ya que no siempre se usa la misma, además de que entre sí hay una gran diferencia en cuanto al timbre o color sonoro.

Agrdezco infinitamente que el maestro Naranjo haya creido en mi palabra con respecto a ese hallazgo y después de año y medio de trámites burocráticos, elecciones, muerte del presidente, nuevas elecciones, cientos de emails, ligados a la tenacidad que me ha dado el amor por mi país, el sueño de tener aquí un instrumento de ésta calidad y el apoyo moral y constante de Peter Slisbury y de los miembros de la Compañía Nacional de Música, RESPIRO, el piano está listo para ser estrenado el 9 de Agosto de 2013 a las 6.00 pm.

Entre los pianístas que también han tocado conciertos y grabado CDs en el piano en cuestión están Eugene Kissin, Maurizio Pollini, Alfred Brendel, Barry Douglas…ésta servidora.

Aparte del lazo profesional que tengo con Peter Salisbury están dos importantes anecdotas, él fue durante muchos años el técnico de mi profesora de piano en Londres, Phyllis Sellick y hace unos diez años Peter se casó con una gran pianísta y fantástica amiga de hace mas de veinte años, Eva María Alexandre.