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South American & Spanish Piano & Vocal Music

Albéniz Iberia & Granados Goyescas
Artur Pizarro, piano

Linn Records CKD 355 [146 mins - Recorded at Julius Blüthner Pianofortefabrik GmbH, Leipzig, Germany from 2-6 September 2009]

Artur Pizarro plays a Blüthner concert grand piano (serial number 151893, born on September 1 2009), so we are told in a throw-away note with this important release: see recording-albeniz-iberia-and-granados-goyescas.

See also: Sad news of the death at 86 of the unique Spanish pianist Alicia de Larrocha – she virtually owned the music of Albeniz and Granados - - I’m left thinking about this business of stamping your personality on music so unforgettably that other interpretations are left in the shade… Telegraph September 2009

As a boy, I was first captivated by Albéniz through Rubinstein's '78 shellac disc ("an ebullient Navarra and a vivacious, clean-cut Sevilla" - Gramophone) and later treasured Alicia de Larrocha in one of the BBC's very first digital transmissions from the Royal Festival Hall...

I have misplaced my score of Iberia, but am helped by Artur Pizarro's 8 pages of his travels through the Spain of Albéniz & Granados. He rehearses his identification with the piano since his first public performance at 3 and debut on Portuguese TV at 4 ! He studied and was influenced by great teachers back to the world that Granados and Albeniz were part of, studying in Portugal and later in Paris with legendary names, becoming familiar with all the great recordings of this music. He describes the exceptional difficulties of Iberia, some pieces of which the composer couldn't play, and countless hours deciphering the complications and confusions of the score before finally achieving "the gargantuan task of training the notes into the fingers". His candour makes you trust him.

De Larrocha insisted to Artur Pizarro "You must not imitate me!". So let me say simply that this double CD for Linn of these perennial favourites is quite wonderful and makes for gripping, sensuous listening from first to last; let's leave comparative reviewing to the piano specialists.

Pizarro devoted 5 days to the recording in a 'post-natal' studio within the Bluthner factory in Leipzig, and the whole team deserves unreserved praise.

It is a landmark in recorded history and an essential addition to everyone's library of Spanish piano music.

Peter Grahame Woolf

See also Pizarro in Ravel, Debussy/Ravel piano-4hands
Pizarro's Chopin Favourites recorded on a Bluthner piano

We have enjoyed Arturo Pizzaro's playing since first hearing and meeting him at Blackheath's PianoWorks September '98 (the first event of its kind) and at its sequel the following year- q.v. http://www.musicalpointers.co.uk/pianoworks99.html

Photograph Sven Arnstein

Clara Rodriguez Venezuela

1. Luisa Elena Paesano, Pajarillo (Joropo)
2. Evencio Castellanos, Mañanita caraqueña (Waltz)
3. Federico Vollmer, Jarro mocho (Joropo)
4. Ramon Delgado Palacios, La Dulzura de tu rostro (Waltz)
5. Luisa Elena Paesano, El porfiao (Joropo)
6. Federico Vollmer, El atravesado (Waltz)
7. Federico Ruiz, Aliseo (Joropo)
8. Maria Luisa Escobar, Noche de luna en Altamira, (Nocturne-Waltz)
9. Federico Ruiz, Zumba que zumba (Joropo)
10. Miguel Astor, Adriana (Waltz)
11. Pablo Camacaro, Diversión (Ritmo Orquídea)
12. Antonio Lauro, Canción
13. Antonio Lauro, Vals criollo
14. Juan Carlos Nuñez, Retrato de Ramón Delgado Palacios, (Waltz)
15. Modesta Bor, Fuga
16. Modesta Bor, Juangriego (Waltz)
17. Antonio Lauro, Seis por derecho (Joropo)
18. Ricardo Teruel, Destilado de vals
19. Francisco Delfín Pacheco, El cumaco de San Juan (Merengue)
20. Luis Laguna, Creo que te quiero (Waltz)
21. Pedro Elias Gutierrez, Alma llanera (Joropo)
22. Pablo Camacaro, Don Luis (Merengue)
23. Simon Diaz, Caballo viejo (Pasaje Llanero)
24. Manuel Yanez, Viajera del río (Waltz)
25. Heraclio Fernandez, El Diablo suelto (Waltz-Joropo)

Nimbus NI 6122 [TT 75 mins - recorded at Wyastone 2010]

Not one composer's name you'll likely know? An infectiously enjoyable disc which gradually wins you over, even though by the end you will have a generalised impression of friendly, unproblematic music, put across by Clara Rodriguez with flair and winning charm.

See Clara on YouTube. Buy & enjoy !

Clara Rodriguez has two more CDs of piano pieces by South American composers Teresa Carreno & Moises Moliero, pleasant enough salon music but not of general interest. Some of Moleiro's for children should be useful for her to introduceat the Royal College of Music in London, where Clara teaches in the Junior Department [Nimbus Alliance NI 6103]

Peter Grahame Woolf

Clara Rodríguez plays piano music of Federico Ruiz

Pieces for children under 100 years of age

Three Venezuelan waltzes
Tropical Triptych

nimbus ni 6179

This is an exceptional disc, very warmly recommended. Settled in London with a family, Clara Rodríguez continues to maintain an international career, "often to Egypt, India, the Domenican Republic ... the little countries- having tended to avoid places frequented by the so-called Tigers of the Piano..."*

85 yesterday, I am happy to associate myself with Ruiz's 14 little Pieces for children under 100 years of age ! They are short, well varied as sequenced here; wholly delightful.

The Micro-Suite ventures into twelve-tone idiom fairly convincingly. The longest work, and in a way the most innovative, is the nine-minutes Nocturne (194) in a more chromatic idiom.

The balance between vigorous dance type pieces, with "accents not always on the same beat of the bar, free to move depending on the actual composition", keeps the listener on his toes. There is always a lightness of touch even in the most vigorous passages - and never the over-emphatic dense playing often to be associated with, say, Ginastera's piano music.

The presentation is generally good, with clear print for easy reading, black on glossy white. Just one quibble; proof-reading was skimped - the English version of the note on Merengue makes no sense; did Clara write them in Spanish, I guess?

Peter Grahame Woolf

*See Bill Newman's wide ranging interview at Clara's home in South Wimbledon.


Great Spanish Pianists: Granados, Segovia, Falla

Albeniz; Granados; De Falla; Laparra; Paquita egovia
Albeniz: Spanish Serenade
Albeniz/Godowsky: Tango
Albeniz: Aragonaise & Sevillianas from Suite Espagnole
Laparra: Poursuite 'Souvenirs of Youth'
Granados: Five Spanish Dances
De Falla: Aragonaise & In Cuban Style
Paquita Segovia: Serenade
Granados: Prelude from 'Maria Del Carmen' & Spanish Waltzes

Del Segno DSPRCD037

Taken from original piano rolls made almost a hundred years ago, here in vivid presence and modern sound are Granados, De Falla, Laparra, Novaes, and Segovia playing delightful Spanish pieces, many of them well known and still popular; a feast of idiomatic piano playing, with natural rubato and unfailing vitality.

This might be, of all these received for review in rapid succession, the disc you'll want to return to most often. The sound is great on these 1992 remastered recordings and the documentation about the pianists comprehensive.

Peter Grahame Woolf