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Pianist Carla 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 influence 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 affection. 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 Read the full review on Agora Classica


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