(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
NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI6103 [65:13]
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
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.
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