On June 10th I presented my new CD Clementi on a Clementi & Co square piano to the media. The event took place at the residence of Anna Cuatrecasas, the owner of the pianoforte with whom we have shared this adventure. Several journalists and figures from the field of culture attended to it. The art specialist Daniel Giralt-Miracle made a short introduction explaining the relationship of the instrument with the Cuatrecasas family. The next speaker was Jaume Ayats, director of the Music Museum of Barcelona, who highlighted the value of restoring an old piano. After this introduction, I explained my interest and motivation for Clementi and his work, and I performed some passages of the compositions in the album.
In the video by Olga Giralt you can see the nice atmosphere of the presentation. The news has already appeared in some media such as the newspapers Ara and La Vanguardia, and the classical music radio station Catalunya Música.
ARA newspaper. Barcelona, 11-6-2015
The vitality of an historical instrument
Marina Rodríguez Brià performs pieces by Muzio Clementi with a piano built in 1824
XAVIER CERVANTES, Barcelona
Marina Rodríguez Brià sits at a piano built in 1824 at Muzio Clementi‘s (1752–1832) factory in England. The pianist from Sant Vicenç de Castellet can’t hide her enthusiasm: “For many years I had been going after a Clementi piano in good condition. It had been in my mind since 1999.” By then, she didn’t know that at the home of Anna Cuatrecasas there had been one since 1948. “The piano arrived home when I was born,” recalls Cuatrecasas. However, this square piano needed to be restored, and Jaume Barmona spent 9 months working on it. “Many strings were missing and we had to recover the wood,” explains Barmona, who also consulted documents in the Music Museum of Barcelona to be able to fine-tune the restoration. What still remains to be figured out is the life the piano had before arriving to Barcelona.
Once everything was in place, Rodríguez Brià could record various compositions by Clementi on an instrument with a “warm sound, a very powerful bass, and a very soft treble.” The result can be heard on the CD Clementi on a Clementi & Co square piano, meaning music by Muzio Clementi performed on an instrument built by a man who defined himself as “a young Italian but an old Englishman” and who is buried in Westminster Abbey as “the father of the piano.”
Clementi, born in Rome, travelled to England when he was 14 and there he developed his career as a “harpsichordist, pianist, pedagogue, composer, promoter, piano manufacturer, and founder of the Philharmonic Society.” “He was an entrepreneur. He was also a publisher and went all across Europe searching for music. He was Beethoven’s publisher in England, and when it comes to piano manufacturing, he directly took part in improving the sound”, adds Rodríguez Brià.
Rodríguez Brià, sitting at the piano, explains that Clementi as a pianist understood “the piano expressivity” immediately, and that while Mozart lived he was already composing “like a Romantic.” She, full of passion, plays a fragment of a sonata from 1790, and when it ends the director of the Music Museum of Barcelona, Jaume Ayats, exclaims: “The empty fifth at the end… It couldn’t be done!” “Clementi was such a modern man,” replies the pianist.
Enthusiasm splashed the small room of Cuatrecases home presided over by the instrument. “We have believed the Germanic idealistic sacrifice so much that we have left the Italian vitalism aside,” says Ayats, infected by the delight transmitted by Clementi’s music, the piano, and the pianist’s hands.
La Vanguardia newspaper. Barcelona 4-7-2015
A Clementi at home
The intimate life of Barcelona has its own musical heartbeat. Because of its society, because of its people, who know how to appreciate art and culture and leave experiences to us like the one that inspires this comment that wants to pay tribute to those families who appreciate music made at home. Living rooms with friends gathering around young performers and, as in this case, old instruments.
Making music at home was common in the austere years after the civil war, and one of these homes had an old forte-piano coming in in 1948. This is explained by Anna Cuatrecasas, who recently had the piano restored and, oh surprise! It was a Clementi that it is believed to have been made in 1824; a Clementi by that Muzio Clementi who made many piano students dream –or sometimes suffer. Contemporary to Mozart and Beethoven (Rome, 1752–Evesham, 1832), author of performing techniques and a large piano work (Howard Shelley embarked years ago upon the task of recording it all at Hyperion), and publisher and piano manufacturer. He was highly famous in the already mercantilist England that drew Händel, Haydn… and sold pianos and music sheets to the world.
And destiny brought to Anna’s home the young pianist Marina Rodríguez Brià, specialist in Clementi, fascinated for having this jewel at her disposal. And a long work was then undertaken –a good restoration– to prepare a recording that has just seen the light with an appealing programme representing a good musical portrait of Clementi: brief Preludes that introduce three of his Sonatas, and as a culmination a selection of Monferrinas (small dances from the Piedmont) that Clementi recalled in the hazy England. A very significant work that enlivens this path of performers who practice music with original instruments. Jorge de Persia.
Translation: Paula Oliva