GUEST BLOG: CLARA RODRIGUEZ

Pianist Clara Rodriguez explains her repertoire picks for her upcoming December concert.

All concerts at Southbank Centre are special events, the magic of one evening only, the energy, imagination and love that goes into putting the programme together, it’s all part of our artistic proposal to the world. My concert on Monday December 10th in the Purcell Room at Queen Elizabeth Hall is going to be  another exciting yet very different experience to the other nine or ten concerts I have played there in the past.

The high inspiration, poetry and skill behind all the pieces I am playing makes my heart jump with emotion. Just reading Verlaine’s Clair de lune poem makes me realize, even more deeply, the beauty of Debussy‘s Suite Bergamasque, which I could play for ever!

Votre âme est un paysage choisi 
Que vont charmant masques et bergamasques 
Jouant du luth et dansant et quasi 
Tristes sous leurs déguisements fantasques.

Tout en chantant sur le mode mineur 
L’amour vainqueur et la vie opportune 
Ils n’ont pas l’air de croire à leur bonheur 
Et leur chanson se mêle au clair de lune,

Au calme clair de lune triste et beau, 
Qui fait rêver les oiseaux dans les arbres 
Et sangloter d’extase les jets d’eau, 
Les grands jets d’eau sveltes parmi les marbres
.

Your soul is a chosen landscape 
Charmed by masquers and bergamaskers 
Playing the lute and dancing and almost 
Sad beneath their fanciful disguises.

Even while singing, in a minor key, 
Of victorious love and fortunate living 
They do not seem to believe in their happiness,
 And their song mingles with the moonlight,

The still moonlight, sad and beautiful, 
Which sets the birds in the trees dreaming, 
And makes the fountains sob with ecstasy, 
The tall slender fountains among the marble statues
!

I have always been interested in the output of contemporary composers, as well as their loneliness and their bravery in expressing their truth on paper and, of course, appreciating their talent. 
On this occasion I will première three preludes by the young Venezuelan composerMirtru Escalona Mijares who lives in Paris and has kindly dedicated the last of theThree Short Preludes to me.
It is based on a tanka by the buddhist monk RYOKAN (1758-1831). It is called...contempler longuement…” and in it I have to use special concentration skills to play pianissimo and I must play very slowly, as opposed to our usual kind of preoccupation which is to play lots of notes very fast. 
Mirtru has been working very hard on purifying or cleansing musical phrases and thoughts. It is a challenge! 
Here is the poem The third Prelude is inspired by:

“Je n’ai rien de spécial à vous offrir juste une fleur de lotus dans un petit vase à contempler longuement “.

I have nothing special to offer to you Just a lotus flower In a small vase To be contemplated for a long time

“Hommage à Chopin” , a tour de force written by Villa-Lobos will follow. It is a strange piece, not exactly romantic, I think it has the force of the Amazonian jungle and depicts Chopin’s passionate torments and obsessions. It has a greater number of melodic layers than most piano pieces thus making it quite virtuosic.

It was while studying with Nadia Boulanger in Paris that Piazzolla was urged to develop his love for tango thus creating the “new tango” in which he transformed this old Argentinean dance into music capable of a variety of expression, fusing sharply-contrasted moods: his tangos are by turn fiery, melancholic, passionate, tense, violent, lyrical and always driven by an endless supply of rhythmic energy. I am thrilled to be able to play Le Grand Tango, one of his most classical pieces, and then in the same evening The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires with leading young performers from France, Jordan Gregoris on the cello, and from Russia, Ksenia Berenzina on the violin. You’ll see what an exquisite pair of musicians they are. We are having the time of our lives playing this music. It is a luxury!

Not forgetting my Caribbean roots, I have added three composers from that part of the world, for two reasons, my dear London public expects it and simply because I have so much joy playing them. So, from Cuba a nostalgic Danzón by José María Vitier, who composed the music for the film “Strawberry and Chocolate”, then two London premières will follow by a composer from Bogotá, Colombia, Germán Darío Pérez, in which my  friend, percussionist Wilmer Sifontes, will play the kind of percussion that should accompany a bambuco and then we’ll play together the very lively Zumba que zumba (joropo) written for me by the Venezuelan composer Federico Ruiz, in which Wilmer will play the Venezuelan maracas. I doubt it if this programme could be more exciting or varied! repertoireImageR$I

8 Responses


  1. This is one of our rehearsals

  2. Dieu vous bénisse, chère Clara et bonne chance!
    Valentin.

  3. Are interpretations and performances of music as valuable to humanity as composition?

    In addition to performing, I would encourage you to use your skills to compose …after all, we wouldn’t really appreciate artists painting each others paintings, again and again and again, no matter how excellent and imaginative their interpretations.

    Composition is the great leveler. It requires bravery, risk of humiliation, it divorces our talent in performance/interpretation of other peoples creations, leaving us honestly naked – our talent and our instrument only. A blank canvass!

    Imagine how Debussy would have really felt. realizing his compositions touched his audience so profoundly, then and of course now and into the future.

    Over time, humanity doesn’t really remember or value individual performances. they were just a moment in time – it values more compositions that reach into the soul, helps to expresses our deepest emotions, just the way Debussy and the other masters have done, and for the very best composition offers immortality.

  4. Thank you for your passionate comment. You are absolutely right about immortality. I guess I am a simple mortal who loves to interpret. If we all composed and no -one performed the written music it would all be forgotten by humanity. Performing is also an act of bravery, passion, love, and it is an art to do it well. It’s like good actors, if they all were playwrites we would only know Shakespeare through books, with any luck. As performers we also express our life experience or feelings through the notes or words of these great creative minds. I have not developed my skills as a composer, but who knows what might happen in the future!

  5. Contigo mañana !!!

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