Reviews and Broadcast: Bartok, Kodaly and Liszt at the BBC Proms

The London Philharmonic Orchestra performed an all-Hungarian programme at the Royal Albert Hall conducted by Vladimir Jurowski as part of the BBC Proms 2011 season.

The concert was recorded by BBC Radio 3 and filmed for BBC4.

You can listen online until 1 August using BBC iplayer
The concert will be broadcast on BBC4 on Friday 29 August at 7.30pm

The Guardian (4 stars) – Tim Ashley:
Works by later Hungarian composers formed its companion pieces. Kodály’s Dances of Galánta, all suave strings and elegant woodwind, was the curtain raiser. Bartók’s stark First Piano Concerto, meanwhile, with its self-conscious avoidance of lyricism, is, in some respects, as ground-breaking a work as the Liszt. Jean-Efflam Bavouzet was the soloist in a powerhouse performance that followed Bartók’s requested platform layout with the pianist surrounded by the orchestral percussion.

Evening Standard (4 stars) – Nick Kimberley:
The principal conductor launched Kodály’s Dances of Galánta as if intent on doing the dancing himself. The orchestra responded, catching the set’s jaunty insouciance as well as its sinewy vigour.
Nicholas Carpenter’s mellifluous clarinet stood out, first establishing a mood of longing, later returning to draw a nocturnal veil over proceedings. Written in 1926, Bartók’s First Piano Concerto still sounds astonishingly modern.

ArtsDesk  – Ismene Brown:
The bipolar despair and triumph in the portrayal of Faust in the first movement is perverted with a deliciously savoury malevolence in the third, Mephistopheles movement, Faust’s tunes now tainted with poisonous vapours and whispered mockery. The selection of orchestral colour is breathtaking, brilliantly delivered last night by the LPO.

Kodály Dances of Galánta
Bartók Piano Concerto No. 1
Liszt A Faust Symphony

Vladimir Jurowski conductor
Jean-Efflam Bavouzet piano
Markus Jentzsch tenor
London Philharmonic Orchestra
London Philharmonic Choir (men’s voices)
London Symphony Chorus (men’s voices)

Get to know… pianist Clara Rodriguez

Clara Rodriguez

What do you fear the most and why?
A world with no humanity. A moment with no love. I have always loved and have been in love with people and music, if I lost that I would be really empty and saddened.

Which mobile number do you call the most?
I call my son to know where he is on his journey home from school and my friends when we are meeting in town for concerts, films or meals out.

What – or where – is perfection?
Perfection can be felt in any moment of the day or doing any activity, it does not last very long so you have to enjoy it, try to grab it knowing that it always slips away. You know what perfection is when you are experiencing it.

Who is your favourite hero from fiction (book/comic/film/opera) – and why?
In the world of opera I like the roles of Mimi, Zerlina (not Donna Anna), Salome, Carmen. They are strong women but they revel in suffering, they are Romantic characters. The girls from Cosi have all the fun until they are discovered. If they had done Liszt as a hero, he would be my favourite, there is still time…

What’s your favourite ritual?
I have a few, but one that one has to be on time for not to miss it, is sitting comfortably on the white sand facing the Caribbean sea to watch the sunset on the Venezuelan island of Coche!

Which living person do you most admire (and why)?
I admire clarity of thought, generosity, talent, hard work. I have met wonderful people that are not with us anymore that I still admire and learn from but from the land of the living, many of my artist and musician friends, some members of my family and my husband have those qualities.

What other talent or skill would you like to possess?
Barenboim’s memory and general talent.

Tell us about a special memory you have of Southbank Centre?
I have lovely memories from my concerts at Southbank Centre: playing Liszt B minor Sonata in my first recital there; then Schubert and Chopin’s last Sonatas when I was pregnant and then producing and playing in two shows with actors and visual artists when my baby was four months old – very hard work but rewarding. My piano teacher, Phyllis Sellick, used to attend all my concerts there; she was always very supportive which coming from such a great artist was a fantastic stimulus. I have also always gone to hear other people’s fabulous concerts there. It has been part of my schooling!

If you could programme your ideal Southbank Centre show, which artists (living or dead) would you bring together?
There would be so many! Old and young, living and dead, I do not think there would be enough days in a year but if I am realistic I would do it by countries, trends or mainly by friendliness! I would have visual artists, dancers, musicians –composers and performers- writers, costume designers all working together in a creation where they could show their strongest feelings and visions. The end result could be a great opera, or better still an endless soap-opera delivered by instalments.

What’s your favourite website?

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
To bathe in the lushness of nature, human talent and MUSIC!

What is the most played piece of music on your MP3 player or in your CD collection?
I listen especially to Latin American and Venezuelan music, salsa, a little pop music like Mika; my friend’s and my own recordings, BBC Radio 3. Jazz if I can dedicate the time and are not afraid of being moved or too melancholic.

Hear Clara Rodriguez at Southbank Centre’s Purcell Room on 13 September. Get ticket here.