Rodrigo was a prolific composer, to say the least, and he was
composing right up to the end of his life. Since he was a brilliant
pianist he wrote a lot for his own instrument, and this fascinating
and excellent disc covers some of this oeuvre, spanning most
of his creative life; the earliest composition here is Berceuse
d’Automne, written in 1923; the latest is Preludio de
añoranza, written in 1987 to commemorate the centenary
of the birth of Artur Rubinstein. This was also his last piano
I wrote about the music and indeed it is. Written within a time
span of nearly 65 years there have to be differences in style,
in harmonic language etc, but what strikes me most of all is
the constantly high quality of the music, the inventiveness,
the colourfulness and the grateful writing for the instrument.
He must have been a very accomplished pianist. All the music
here is permeated by a genuine Spanish flavour. The programme
planning also has to be praised, since it gives maximum variety,
meaning that playing the disc straight through in one sitting
(almost 70 minutes) never feels long-winded. Most of the pieces
are short, only a few exceed five minutes, but each of them
is a gem and each of them has a personality, a mood of its own.
opening number, A l’ombre de Torre Bermeja, at once makes
you sit up and listen: what wonderful piano playing! What dexterity,
what delicate shadings, what a lovely tone! The tremolo effects
Artur Pizarro achieves are quite stunning and I have to admit
to sitting spellbound through the rest of the programme. This
is indeed the best piano playing I have heard for a very long
time. Pizarro is of course no newcomer; he won the Leeds International
Piano Competition in 1990 and has led a busy life giving concerts
and recitals all over the world. He also has a number of critically
acclaimed CDs to his credit and is in the process of recording
the complete Beethoven sonatas for Linn Records. He may not
be as well known as some other contemporary pianists, but he
should be. If this disc is anything to go by he is destined
to a have a place at the top of the pianists’ Pantheon.
through my notes I find exclamation marks for almost every piece.
The Cuatro piezas para piano are wonderful Spanish pictures,
delicately played. The tribute to Rubinstein has a minimalist
feeling, and so indeed has the “Autumn Lullaby” , sombre and
with a single chord repeated seventy times. It is also spiced
with dissonances, while we can hear raindrops falling. Spanish
autumn does not sound inviting; on the other hand its companion
piece, the “Spring Lullaby” is lovely, light in tone, fresh
real favourite is Cuatro estampas andaluzas, depicting
the heat of southern Spain. Marvellous music! Listen to “The Devil’s
Seguidillas” and the quite long “Little Boats of Cadiz” which
moves from total stillness to a full storm. And Pizarro handles
all this with the utmost skill.
last pieces bring us back to “The Golden Age of Spanish Music”,
the 16th century, where he develops some themes by
great predecessors (Cabezón, Milán, Mudarra). All of this is
fascinating and to my pleasure I notice that this disc is labelled
“Vol. 1”. I am already looking forward to Vol. 2.
recording is fine; natural, lifelike; the booklet notes are
by Graham Wade, who is an authority on Rodrigo and has written
several books on him.
is still early 2005, but I am quite sure that this disc will
be on my list of the best recordings this year. It definitely
is my Piano Record of the Month.