Monday, 1 October 2012

Return of the Venezuelan and Cuban sensation - Duo Teresa Carreño, Glenorchy Church Exmouth Friday 14 September - lunchtime concerts restart

Duo Teresa Carreño back at Glenorchy
piano: Ana Laura Manero  'cello: Arturo Serna
turning the pages: church secretary Jenny Newman
(microphones, recording, editing - tracks for radio - Mike Gluyas)
After a wait of nine months Exmouth was treated to another exposition of the glorious music making of the Duo Teresa Carreño. On 30th November last year, the duo astounded the Wednesday lunchtime audience with their amazing playing.

Teresa Carreño, New York 1914
This amazing husband and wife team live only fifty miles away in Sherborne, but the combined schedule of Ana Laura's teaching at Sherborne Girls' School, and Arturo's professional orchestral work, make these visits difficult to organise - but they are still very keen to come!

This wonderful couple bring the musical energy of the Caribbean to the Devon whenever they play. Ana Laura was born in Cuba where, at a very early age, she won the Amadeo Roldán National Piano Competition. Her family moved to Venezuela when she was eleven. Two years later she was performing with the Orquesta Filarmonica Nacional in Caracas. When she was sixteen she was soloist in Sergei Prokofiev's Third Piano Concerto with the Simon Bolivar Youth Symphony Orchestra - as part of the first 'Teresa Carreño Festival' put on by the Instituto Universitario de Estudios Musicales in Caracas.

Complejo Cultural Teresa Carreño
Teresa Carreño? She was a world famous Venezuelan pianist, composer and conductor of the late nineteenth century. When the fabulous new Cultural Complex was built for the National Philharmonic Orchestra of Venezuela in Caracas in the 1970s it was natural that it would be named after Teresa. It is also the home of the Teresa Carreño Opera Choir and the Teresa Carreño Ballet. Many musical ensembles in Caracas are named after this great historic figure. Ana Laura and Arturo follow in an impressive tradition.

Marta Gonçalves
seen here playing baroque flute with
Ensemble Amaranthos
It was in Caracas that Arturo met Ana Laura - while playing for the incredibly named 'Fundacion del Estado para el Sistema Nacional de las Orqestas Juveniles e Infantiles de Venezuela' - the National Youth Orchestra, commonly referred to as FESNOJIV. The two liked to hang out together, but were parted when Arturo's career took him to Europe as a much sought-after soloist. They met again in London where Ana Laura was completing her performance MA (with distinction!) at the Royal College of Music, and Arturo was at Trinity College of Music. Arturo stayed at Trinity to complete his post graduate diploma, while Ana Laura continued her studies at - Dartington College!

Melanie Armitstead
mezzo soprano
The good news is that they decided to make their home here in England - in the West Country. While Ana Laura is on the permanent staff at the girl's school in Sherborne (head of keyboard studies), Arturo commutes to London where he is in great demand as a teacher, but also to Yeovil, to teach at Hazlegrove prep school. In addition to orchestral work, Ana Laura and Arturo tour as 'Duo Teresa Carreño', and make a point of coming to Exmouth when they can.

Jadran Duncumd
Spanish guitar
Maybe its the delightful tone of the Venables grand piano, the great acoustics and light airiness of the auditorium, or the wonderful audience that regularly attend, but the duo look right at home here in Exmouth. Below is a brief account of what they played for us in September. More lunchtime concerts start this Wednesday (3rd October) and continue weekly until 12th December - when the final concert for this year is a solo piano recital by - Ana Laura Manero!

violin: Paula Martinez
Ana Laura and Arturo are also well known at Cheap Street Methodist Church in Sherborne. On 23rd September they performed a fundraising concert with Portugese flautist Marta Goncalves, in support of Sherborne's 'Latin American Art Music Festival' which starts in November. Ana Laura and Arturo are on the organising committee, and will be performing at the festival.

Charlotte Maclet
On Wednesday 14th November, Ana Laura will accompany mezzo-soprano Melanie Armitstead.

On Sunday 18th November Ana Laura and Arturo will joined once more by Marta Gonçalves
viola: Danuta Adamska
- and also Spanish guitarist Jadran Duncumd and Spanish violinist Paula Martinez

On Friday 23rd November Arturo and Paula will play quartets with violinist Charlotte Maclet and violist Danuta Adamska

Ana Laura Manero
incredibly sensitive piano playing
Arturo Serna
equally sensitive on the 'cello

The concert on Friday 14th September started with music, not from Venezuela, but from Andalusia in Spain, Manuel de Falla's 'Suite Populaire Españole'. These six songs are from de Falla's 'Siete Canciones Populares Españoles', which he completed in Paris in 1914. The seven songs were originally sung by Luisa Vela, with de Falla accompanying on the piano. Six of the songs were later transcribed for violin and piano by de Falla with the help of violinist Paul Kochankski. An orchestral version followed, and various other arrangements, including this magnificent 'cello and piano version by twentieth century French composer Maurice Marechal.

passionate, but muted
The music opened with the fiery 'El Paño Moruno' (Moorish Cloth), which is all about a fallen woman. Ana Laura was immediately animated, while Arturo surprised the audience with strange sound effects on the 'cello. 'Nana', a song recalled from childhood switched the mood to slow nostalgic caresses.'Cancion  and 'Polo' were in turn comic and feverish, and suddenly gave way to more slow lingering restraint in the famous 'Astoriana'. The best was saved until last. 'La Jota'. Yet another version of the exciting Rondo Aragonese. Strumming and glissandos on the 'cello', a galvanic dance rhythm on piano and interspersed sections of slow promenade on 'cello. Must dance!

it's just a jump to the right
and a step to the left
Of course there had to be Venezuelan music. Modesta Bor graduated in Caracas in 1959 and then studied under Aram Khachaturian in Moscow. Back in Caracas she directed the choir at the Universidad Central de Venezuela where she was head of the music department. She composed many choral works, and also some beautiful works for solo voice and piano. She also directed research into Venezuelan folk music, and composed an extraordinary 'Sonata for 'Cello and Piano' which incorporated the syncopated rhythms of traditional folk songs.

The first three movements alternated between 'espressivo' and 'grazioso'. Gently winning the audience over with the soft embrace of the music, the duo managed to give the impression of a full orchestra. Such a gentle experience. Even the 'allegretto' made only brief forays into animated play - slightly jazzy but still deliciously sweet.


For some reason Ravel's 'Habanera' had to be left out. What a pity. A thrilling piece which would also have reflected Ana Laura's Cuban origins. We don't have a recording either!

Ana Laura introduces Debussy
The duo moved straight on to another Sonata, written in 1915 by Claude Debussy. Debussy had been ill with cancer since 1909 and did not expect to live long. At the age of 53 he faced the prospect of an untried surgical procedure, the colostomy, and the ever present danger of a German breakthrough and the occupation of Paris. (Ironically the operation allowed him to live just long enough to experience the German artillery bombardment of Paris during the 1918 'Spring Offensive'.)

The music he wrote reflects his desolate situation, but also incorporates a message of hope. The opening piano prologue is interrupted by a burst of 'cello which sounds like the next record being played too early in a radio studio (which does sometimes happen!) The discordant outburst is short-lived, however, and the rest of the prologue alternates between the grandiose and the funereal.

jazz 'cello
Debussy did not manage to complete the intended six movements, but finished the composition with a combined serenade and finale. An extraordinary pizzicato 'cello opening sounds like modern jazz, and gives way to a stuttering conversation between 'cello and piano which slowly resolves into a shared melody. This is quite a feat for the duo as Arturo cannot see Ana Laura while he is playing. Nevertheless, their timing was always absolutely perfect - and the balance between the two instruments always tightly under control. As we approach the final furlong Dubussy's wild impressionistic writing leads to an amazing final phrase alternating between the two players - hard to pull off - but these two had it tamed.

To finish the concert in style, Ana and Arturo had prepared a piece by the great Spanish 'cellist Gaspar Cassadó. Gaspar played for Pablo Casals in Barcelona at the age of nine and was immediately taken on as a student. Thirty years later he wrote 'Requibros' for 'cello and piano. "requiebro" is Spanish for flattery - "requiebros" being specifically 'masculine' flattery - flirtation! However, it is ana Laura who gives the neat piano introduction to Arturo's showy 'cello serenade. It is a fabulously Spanish suduction using all the potential of both instruments to woo the audience. You can't help falling in love with this duo all over again!

with precision
Thank you so much to the duo for being so keen to play at Glenorchy, and special thanks to Glenorchy organist David Lee for making the arrangements. The Duo Teresa Carreno are truly star-quality and worth any effort to hear in concert. Please, please, come back soon!

Meanwhile we can hear recordings from that amazing concert - recorded and edited by the incomparable Mike Gluyas - on 'The Classical Journey' - Phonic FM 106.8 FM Tuesdays 10-12am.

David Southerns & David Lee
David Lee has more amazing performances lined up for the next three months - including an opening recital of piano duets by himself and David Southerns - and that spectacular final appearance by Ana Laura Manero. In between there are a succession of star performers that you would pay a fortune to hear in London. Here in Exmouth? - admission if free! Contributions to the players, and to the upkeep of the church are always welcome, but only what each individual feels they can afford. You can't say fairer than that!

Wednesday Lunchtime Concerts at Glenorchy, Exmouth - 12.00 for 12.30:

03 October: David Lee and David Southerns piano and organ duets
10 October: Joyce Clarke solo piano recital
17 October: Janet Macdonald and Matthew Wright soprano with piano accompaniment
24 October: Duncan Honeybourne solo piano recital
31 October: Mary O'Shea and John Scarfe soprano with piano accompaniment
07 November: Josephine Pickering and Frances Waters piano duets
14 November: Hilary Boxer and Susan Steele 'cello and piano
21 November Wensley and Jacqueline Palmer soprano with piano/organ accompaniment
28 November: The Beacon Piano Trio! (Joyce Clarke, Anna Cockroft, Ruth Lass)
05 December: A further return of ALEX WEST organ and piano
12 December: Ana Laura Manero - solo piano recital

Latin American Music Arts Festival at Cheap Street Church, Sherborne - 7.00pm (£12)

Wed 14 Nov: Melanie Armitstead & Ana Laura Manero solo piano and accompanied mezzo
Sun 18 Nov:  Ana Laura Manero, Arturo Serna,
                     Marta Gonçalves, Paula Martinez, Jadran Duncumd South American ensemble
Fri 23 Nov: Charlotte Maclet, Paula Martinez, Danuta Adamska, Arturo Serna
                     South American string quartet

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