Clara Rodriguez plays Teresa Carreño

Premiere performances of high-class salon music by a Venezuelan Valkyrie

Author: 
Jeremy Nicholas

Clara Rodriguez plays Teresa Carreño

  • (La) Printemps
  • Plainte (Queja) Elegia No. 1
  • Ballade
  • Intermezzo Scherzoso
  • Corbeille de fleurs
  • Mazurka de Salon
  • Une bal en rêve
  • Partie Elegía
  • (La) Fausse Note, Fantasie-Valse
  • (Un) Rêve en mer, Méditation
  • Petite Valse, 'Teresita'
  • (Le) Sommeil de l'enfant, Berceuse
  • Vals gayo
  • (2) Esquisses Italiennes
  • Une revue à Prague

Teresa Carreño (1853- 1917), nicknamed “The Valkyrie of the Piano”, had much in common with Martha Argerich: South American (Carreño hailed from Venezuela), charismatic, much married (Argerich has had three husbands, Carreño had four), and hailed as one of the greatest pianists of the day. But Argerich, as far as I know, does not compose.

Carreño turns out to be rather good at it, a natural tunesmith of lyrical grace and, frequently, originality. If you can take a whole disc of Moszkowski or Gottschalk, whose protégé Carreño was, you will certainly enjoy this high-class salon music in (mainly) world premiere recordings. Though these two composers play a part in her music (Vals gayo has a Gottschalkian Latin-American lilt, Une revue á Prague uses some configurations at the top of the keyboard borrowed from Louis Moreau, while her Intermezzo is a close relation of Moszkowski’s La jongleuse), Carreño is very much her own woman: try the extended Ballade (7'22"), the two touching Elegies, Un rêve en mer and Le sommeil de l’enfant. The first subject of Un bal en rêve seems to be a prescient version of “Happy birthday to you”, while Kleiner Waltzer (tr 11), her once-popular and most celebrated composition, was recorded by one of her husbands, Eugen d’Albert (Carreño herself made a piano roll of it).

Such music needs an empathetic spirit to show it to its best advantage and Clara Rodriguez, Venezuelan herself, provides it with performances of alluring vivacity allied to that most essential of requisites in this type of repertoire – charm. Highly recommended.

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