Clara Rodriguez plays the piano music of Federico Ruiz
Clara Rodriguez is often described as an Ambassador of Latin-American piano music, recognising the great number of concerts she has given, and CDs, where this music features prominently. Caracas born Clara Rodriguez studied with Phyllis Sellick after winning a scholarship from the Venezuelan Arts Council to train in London at the Royal College of Music. There she was the recipient of numerous prizes and performed as a soloist with the RCM orchestras. She studied initially with Guiomar Narváez and has also been a pupil of Paul Badura-Skoda (Vienna), Regina Smendzianka (Poland) and Niel Immelann (London). In Caracas, at the age of sixteen she made her debut playing Mozart’s last piano concerto with the Simón Bolívar Orchestra under the baton of José Antonio Abreu. Clara Rodriguez’s career as a concert pianist has taken her to most European cities, India, Egypt, Tunisia and the Americas.
"Pianist Clara Rodríguez, a fervent proponent of Latin-American piano music, is a close collaborator with contemporary Venezuelan composer Federico Ruiz. Two pieces on the disc were written for the pianist: Tropical Triptych and Nocturne. Instantly, the opening Merengue places us geographically, at least in terms of continent, as there appears to be a clear infl uence of Ginastera. Rodríguez projects the infectious rhythms well and the work is a satisfying length. Ruiz clearly has a pronounced sense of humour, given the title of his pieces for ‘children’(of less than 100 years). There is great charm to these pieces, and Rodríguez plays them with great a. ection. The expert pastiche of the Charlie Chaplin movement is a highlight, but it is Rodríguez’s convincing way with the bitter-sweet elements of this music that marks her as on home territory. The more exploratory music not only provides contrast but gives us a hint of Ruiz’s scope. The Nocturne is more chromatic and probes deeper, while the Micro-Suite is dodecaphonic. It sounds like Schoenberg but operates on a Webernian timeframe, which makes it all the more intriguing (the Passacaglia is the longest movement, at just over a minute). The Tropical Triptych puts the disc back on course with 15 minutes of liquid sunshine. Rodríguez plays the ornaments most fetchingly in the first movement, while the finale heralds a heady mix of conga, salsa and spiritual. This latter movement is compositionally as well as technically virtuoso, mixing more advanced writing harmonies with appealing rhythms. Recommended" Colin Clarke, International Piano
"If you’ve heard of Federico Ruiz, it’s probably because you’ve come across the Venezuelan composer’s touching miniature called The Little Peruvian Girl, which is currently on the ABRSM’s grade 4 syllabus. The Little Peruvian Girl is one of 15 pieces in this amusingly titled collection written between 1982 and 1994. The music can generally be described as a blend of folk-like melodies and Latin flavours with occasional forays into a more impressionistic soundworld. The pieces...Dictator rides a moped and Cha-cha-cha for Madalit are highlights, and they are edited here by Clara Rodriguez, a dedicatee of several piano works by the composer." Michael McMillan, Pianist Magazine April-May 2014
"Rodríguez clearly enjoys playing this music, and her enthusiasm is infectious. She has a good feel for the exuberant idioms, and swings the ragtime passages as to the manner born. And the recorded sound is excellent, in just the right sort of acoustic… we should be grateful to Rodríguez for what we are given here, and for delivering it to us so well." Paul Corfield Godfrey, musicweb-international.com
“Clara Rodriguez is an excellent pianist with vitality, clean technique and command of tonal nuance”. Lionel Salter, Gramophone
“This is an exceptional disc, very warmly recommended. Settled in London with a family, Clara Rodríguez continues to maintain an international career, "often to Egypt, India, the Domenican Republic ... the little countries- having tended to avoid places frequented by the so-called Tigers of the Piano..." 85 yesterday, I am happy to associate myself with Ruiz's 14 little pieces for children under 100 years of age ! They are short, well varied as sequenced here; wholly delightful. The Micro-Suite ventures into twelve-tone idiom fairly convincingly. The longest work, and in a way the most innovative, is the nine-minutes Nocturne (194) in a more chromatic idiom. The balance between vigorous dance type pieces, with "accents not always on the same beat of the bar, free to move depending on the actual composition", keeps the listener on his toes. There is always a lightness of touch even in the most vigorous passages - and never the over-emphatic dense playing often to be associated with, say, Ginastera's piano music." Peter Grahame Woolf
"Clara Rodríguez has been recognised for some time now as an ideal pianist to perform missionary work on behalf of Latin American composers. She has performed the works of Venezuelan Federico Ruiz with fidelity and has earned the dedication of some of them; Tropical Triptych and Nocturne were written for her. The performances manage to get across this vitality in well defined recordings." Jonathan Woolf, MusicWeb-International.com August 2012