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Teresa CARREÑO (1853-1917)
Le printemps Op.25 [5:35]
Plainte (Queja). Elegia No.1, Op.17 [3:54]
Ballade (Balada) Op.15 [7:22]
Intermezzo Op.34 [1:50]
La corbeille de fleurs (La cesta de flores), Valse Op.9 [7:53]
Mazurka de Salon Op.30 [3:06]
Un bal en rêve (Un baile en sueños) [5:10]
Partie (Partida) Elegia No. 2, Op.18 [4:33]
La fausse note (La nota falsa) Op. 39 [4:13]
Un rêve en mer (Un sueño en el mar) Op.28 [5:28]
Kleiner Waltzer (Mi Terasita) [3:28]
Le sommeil de l’enfant (El sueño del niño) Op.35 [3:41]
Vals gaya [4:44]
Venise (Venecia) Op.33 [2:45]
Une revue à Prague (Una revista en Praga) [4:51]
Clara Rodriguez (piano)
rec. Complejo Teresa Carreño, Sala José Félix Ribas, Caracas. 2002

Experience Classicsonline

Teresa Carreño was born in Caracas. She went on to make an important and successful musical career in North America and Europe as (primarily) a pianist of considerable reputation. She was also a singer and an occasional conductor, as well as a composer. Carreño was the granddaughter of Cayetano Carreño (1774-1836), composer, organist and choirmaster who played an important role in the musical life of Venezuela. Her own father, Antonio Carreño (1812-1874) was, by profession a banker and a diplomat, but also had a sound musical background and gave his daughter her early music lessons. Her mother, Clorinda Garcià de Sena y Toro was a niece of Simon Bolivar’s wife. Teresa was something of a keyboard prodigy. At the age of 8 she was taken to New York, where she studied with Gottschalk and gave public performances which attracted large audiences. One writer who attended her concerts wrote that “Little Miss Teresa Carreno is indeed a wonder … A child of nine years, with fine head and face full of intelligence, rather Spanish-looking (she is from Caracas) runs upon the stage of the great Music Hall, has a funny deal of difficulty in getting herself upon the seat before the Grand Piano, runs her fingers over the keyboard like a virtuoso, and then plays you a difficult Nocturne by Doehler, with octave passages and all, not only clearly and correctly, but with true expression … she plays Thalberg’s fantasia on Norma, full of all kinds of difficulties … with brilliancy, with nice shading, with expressions, her chords struck square and clean, like a master”.

There followed further studies in Paris, with George Mathias and, later with Anton Rubinstein. In her earlier years she seems to have been a somewhat impetuous and fiery player she seems later - after a break from public performance, a break bound up with her complex marital history - she gained a reputation as a meditative player, whose work was characterised by genuine profundity. Evidence of her own playing exists only in the form of piano rolls.

The excellent Clara Rodriguez here gives us a delightful sampling of Carreño’s own compositions most of which were apparently composed during her teenage years in Paris. The music will surely interest - and give pleasure - to anyone with a fondness for the nineteenth-century piano repertoire. There isn’t perhaps much of startling originality here, nor very much that betrays the composer’s South-American origins. The partial exceptions are Un bal en rêve, which incorporates the dance rhythms of the Venezuelan merengue and the Latin-tinged Vals gayo. Everything is very accomplished and each piece makes clear not only the considerable technique that the young Carreño must have had at her disposal, but also her sophisticated rootedness in the music of her age. Her Ballade has a dramatic poetry of a sort which no nineteenth-century composer would have been remotely ashamed. Le Printemps has a fine declamatory opening, an elegant waltz momentum, and a pleasing willingness to disrupt that momentum to subtle and expressive effect. Chopin would not, surely have been embarrassed to acknowledge either the Mazurka de salon or Un rêve de mer. The lovely Venise is pure delight, an exquisite barcarolle - this is a piece that deserves a place in the extensive canon of compositions inspired by Venice. Something positive can - and should - be said about every piece on the disc.

Clara Rodriquez plays with abundant vitality and a matching tenderness. Her performances carry a persuasive air of authority - this is clearly music which means a lot to her. Little of this music achieves any great emotional profundity unless it be Plainte, an elegy for the composer’s mother. It never fails to engage as it explores a variety of moods and tempi and is always full of character.

Glyn Pursglove 

see also review by Jonathan Woolf


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