Con Amore: A Conversation with Rosa Antonelli (By Robert Schulslaper)
Time flies. It seems that only yesterday I was speaking with pianist Rosa Antonelli about her forthcoming Carnegie Hall debut (Fanfare 35: 1). Today, that happy occasion is more than a year in the past, but Rosa’s not one to let the grass grow under her feet: She’s recorded a new CD, Remembranza: remembrance of Latin sounds, which I’m sure her many fans will enjoy.
Q: Hello Rosa, it’s good to see you again. First of all, congratulations on your successful Carnegie Hall debut.
A: Thank you, Robert.
Q: As some, but not all, of your program is repeated on Remembranza, I was wondering how the two events might be related. Had you made plans to record the CD before the concert?
A: This is a very interesting question, because before you came, I was reminding myself to tell you about the connection with Carnegie Hall. I was going to record the CD anyway, but the two events are linked through the title, Remembranza, which has special significance for me. I wanted to remember both the Carnegie Hall experience and the fact that I performed a program consisting only of Latin music. Albany Records encouraged me to play anything I wanted, but Esperanza [Rosa’s previous Albany release], which concentrated exclusively on Argentinean classical composers, was so successful that I said to myself, “Oh, I’m going to record many of the Latin flavored pieces I played at Carnegie Hall.”
Q: Two of the Piazzolla tangos you played were New York premieres.
A: Yes, and they’re on the CD, but there are two more, which were premieres for me: Adios Nonino and La ultima Grela.
Q: Granados’s La maja e el ruisenor (The lady and the nightingale)] is another “non-Carnegie” selection.
A: I love that piece but the program was already so long, so I had to choose. However, I did play his Allegro de Concierto and Albeniz’s Granada and L’Automne Waltz at Carnegie Hall, along with some Ginastera, which had already been recorded on Esperanza. A private reason why I chose to record some of the Carnegie Hall program is that I’m never happy with my performance. I’m usually 95 percent unhappy and only two or three happy, no? [laughing]
Q: That’s a tendency that musicians have.
A: We are always hard on ourselves. But about this concert at Carnegie Hall, I have to tell you that I was, of course, completely, absolutely nervous before – the whole year before. I was nervous when I went to practice, with the rehearsal, and everything, selecting the piano… I had a choice between a Steinway from Germany and a Steinway from here and I eventually decided on the New York Steinway. It was harder to manage the sound, but in the end it was better.
Q: Was that because of the action?
A: The action. But I felt I could make my sound. I could work with my sound. Whereas, with the other…
Q: It sort of got away from you a bit?
A: Yes. Exactly. So even if I would be exhausted sooner, I felt that my strength as a pianist is my sound: The way I can connect my sound from my heart. Even if I could look more virtuosic playing the other one, because it was easier, I felt I’d be more warm, more musical playing the American Steinway. The last day before was a nervous breakdown, I spent the whole afternoon choosing, and when I saw the hall, standing alone on that stage looking out at the 2,800 seats, I said to myself, “how I’m going to do this?” Even if I’ve performed in big halls before, Carnegie Hall is Carnegie hall. If I don’t do well, it’s better if I move to another country [laughs]. All my reputation, all these things I’ve built in my life, would be… no? Then, the day of the concert… you know I live two blocks from Carnegie Hall? The concert was supposed to start at 7:30 p.m. and at 6:45 I was still home! I got the call from one of the people from the staff of Carnegie Hall: She was so nice, she said, “Rosa, are you coming?”” It’s funny [laughs]. And I said, “Oh yes, I’m running now, I’m coming right now.” And I said to myself, “Maybe she thought I got stage fright,” I don’t know. Then, when I arrived at the hall, when I was in the Maestro room, I always pray, no? And I’ve always said, “You have a choice,” which is one of the biggest gifts that God gave us. Either you will make this concert one of the best of your life, or you’ll ruin everything. A lot of this has to do with my disposition, with my happiness, with my feelings. How do I want it to be? What was my desire, my wish? But then, when I went downstairs and opened the stage door – it makes me cry to remember – I said, OK, the hall is going to be, I assumed, only 30 percent full.
Q: You didn’t know how many tickets were sold?
A: No. They wanted to tell me, but I didn’t want to hear, I didn’t want to be sad in advance if there were very few people in the audience… sometimes I’ve gone to concerts and felt sorry for the artist when the attendance wasn’t good. So I tried to picture to myself, if there are very few, I will do the same as if it’s full. By the way, I forgot to tell you. Besides praying, one ritual I always follow is that I dedicate the concert to my Mommy and I put a rose on one of the seats as if she’s there.
Q: That’s very sweet.
A: I opened the door and they started clapping so much…
Q: Did that put you at ease?
A.: Yes, because even though I had determined to do my best, their welcome was so warm that it inspired me. And I said, “You know something, tonight I’m going to give you my heart.”” And that’s the way I walked to the piano. And I had an amazing experience which I’ve been having during the last two or three years, which I was embarrassed to talk about until recently. I’ve never spoken about it until two or three weeks after the concert, when I had lunch with Carroll Baker, the actress.
Q: I know that name.
A: Yes, she’s very famous. She did Baby Doll. I met her at the National Arts Club. She’s become one of my fans, now, so I felt it was all right to discuss what I’m about to tell you with her. Also, I was curious to know if she’d ever felt something similar, as she’s a performer. What happened was that I felt I was watching myself at the same time as I was performing, and thinking, “Oh my God, this sounded so well, this music is so good… oh now you can breath more, you can wait more,” like I was listening to another person.
Q: I wonder if that could have been partly related to the wonderful acoustics in Carnegie Hall, so that when you’re playing on the stage the sound is simultaneously enveloping you. Does that make any sense?
A: Yes. But you know, I don’t think it’s only that because it happened so many times over the last two or three years in all sorts of locations.
Q: This reminds me of the so-called out of body experience.
A: Bueno. But, I didn’t want to tell anybody because I thought they’d think I was crazy.
Q: Oh, that Rosa Antonelli, she’s a little… [big laughs from both]
A: And then as the concert continued the experience intensified. Plus, when I saw the hall was full, I felt all this pride because of the pieces I was playing. Because one of the things I was concerned about… I mean, when I go to Carnegie Hall, I read the programs of previous performances. I’m always there, sometimes to rehearsals, and it’s not often that you see a classical soloist playing an entire Latin program. But I needn’t have worried, because when I played I could feel that all our hearts, mine and the audience’s, were brought together by the music.
Q: I imagine you would have been less apprehensive if you were playing such a program in Latin America?
A: Yes, but it’s rare in Carnegie Hall. And even in Argentina, they don’t do it! But after Esperanza, when I saw the success it had, that most of the American people said, “When you play these pieces, I want to be there,” I thought, “you know, maybe they need something else in Carnegie Hall.” Still, I was conflicted, because even though people love this music, I didn’t want to be pigeonholed: “She only plays this.” However, I took courage from the knowledge that it was only in the last two years that I’ve concentrated on Latin music. My whole life up until then was devoted to the classical repertoire.
Q: When you think of it, why shouldn’t Latin music be taken just as seriously, it’s beautiful, it’s well written? I suppose I’m thinking of the critics, because as you said, the general public is very receptive.
A: Yes, and I think they like to hear new things. They are very curious. Also, there’s a big Latin population here, very big. For many people, Latin music is kind of exotic, kind of different, but at the same time familiar, because of the European element. All of these composers, which I will never be tired of saying, all of them studied in Europe as well as in Argentina. All of them. Piazzolla, for example, he studied here in New York, he studied in Europe, he studied in Argentina. Ginastera studied in America with Aaron Copland, and so on.
Q: Is there any Latin American classical music that doesn’t have European influences? Perhaps some of Villa-Lobos’s compositions, in which he incorporated or imitated native Indian themes, but even there he used European harmony.
A: And in popular music, the tango includes a mix of African, Italian, and Gypsy music. Even the bandoneon, which is so identified with tango, originated in Germany. But to go back to Carnegie Hall, what I was trying to say was that it was a whole experience. I will never forget it for the rest of my life. When we came back home the house was filled with flowers, hundreds of them. But before that, we had been to the party at Steinway. It was funny, because two of my friends, Norman Horowitz and Melvin Stecher [duo pianists], were there and when I arrived, Melvin walked over to the door and said, “Rosa, we were so nervous” – they’ve performed often at Carnegie Hall, so they knew what it was like – “we were in the first tier, we were freaking out and then when we saw you walking out onto the stage, you were so relaxed. You didn’t have any nerves.” It was such a happy time. It was so nice, because they were calling me for the last four or five months before and they would say, “How are you doing?” “Oh, fine, fine.” “How are you doing?” So finally, what happened, I was so happy, I came back home and went to sleep. Suddenly I woke up in the middle of the night and looked at the watch, I didn’t see the time, and I said to my husband, Robert, “Oh, my God, I have to get up to practice! [laughter] The concert is tomorrow.” And then he said, “No. You already played it. It was yesterday.”
Q: That’s really funny.
A: But listen. And I said to him, “No, no, no. This was so beautiful, that was a dream.” So he said, “A dream? Go to the living room and look at the flowers.” You can’t imagine for how many days this went on! Each time I saw the flowers I said, “Oh, this has really happened.” I cried because I was so happy. Then the day after, “Oh my God, I have to get up to practice! The concert is tomorrow.” “No, you really did it (Robert) Go to the living room.”
Q: Was he worried about you? [laughter from both]
A: You know for how long this happened? At least 15 days. It shows that it was such happiness for me, such a strong, beautiful thing in my life, that I couldn’t believe it was true. I couldn’t believe I did so well. I didn’t have mistakes, I didn’t have nerves, because sometimes you don’t have mistakes but you cannot connect with the performance. You say afterwards, “Oh, you know, I was so cautious I didn’t have any mistakes…”
Q. But something is missing.
A: Yes. I prefer to make a mistake and have the other part.
Q: You don’t want to be inhibited. You want to be free.
A: Yes. You can be perfect technically and people leave the hall without feeling anything. I always used to ask my teacher, “How do you know when a pianist was good?” I was curious to hear his opinion. He said, “If you go to a theater and after you leave you feel different than when you went in, it was a communication. If you leave in the same way you went, that means the active part wasn’t there.” So what I meant about happiness was that not only did I play well but I could show my feelings almost a 100 percent: I don’t want to say a 100 percent, but almost. I was completely free…
Q: Will you play there again?
A: Oh, yes. I was very encouraged by the response from everybody at Carnegie Hall: The people from the box office, the ushers, everybody, when I went there after to other concerts, everybody was asking me, “When are you playing again, when are you playing again, when are you playing again?” which also was a beautiful thing for me. This is why it lasted 15 days, I kept thinking, “Oh no, that was a dream.”
Q: It was too good. It was too beautiful.
A: Exactly. It was too beautiful it couldn’t be true. Now I had to get up and practice. (laughs).
Q: Besides living the story you’ve just told me, did you listen to the performance right away? I know you had someone filming it.
A: Oh, bueno, they gave me the archive DVD.
Q: How soon after the concert was that?
A: I think one week after. But when I got the DVD – I sent my assistant to pick it up – I never could watch it, I would start crying. When I saw myself walking out to play the first part, I couldn’t get past it. As soon as I heard the reception I had from the audience I started crying: I couldn’t watch. You know when I watched it? October 20, 2012, one year after. And even then, I could only watch a few minutes, partly because, as I told you, I’m so hard on myself. I was once sitting on the beach in Brazil and heard a tape of someone playing the piano, very nicely, I thought. Then I found out it was me. I think that was the only time I had a completely satisfactory impression of my playing!
Q: Let’s talk a bit about the CD. Would you like to start by saying something about the Piazzolla tangos?
A: All right. The first piece, La Ultima Grela, describes a woman from the cabarets in Argentina who had a very sad life, a very dark life…
Q: Like Edith Piaf.
A: Yes. The lyrics are the thoughts of someone who was in love with this woman, who saw her through this dark life, and in the end, she died. I was rehearsing a lot to see which pieces by Piazzolla I would add besides the two I played in Carnegie Hall, and these tangos [La Ultima Grela and Adios Nonino] touched me so much. Why? The music, compared with the other Piazzolla pieces, is not complicated. Piazzolla is usually very complicated for the fingering, the way the chords and the jumps have to be negotiated. It doesn’t look hard but it is. But this is simple: It’s so simple that it has the beauty of the simple. And I, when I was learning it, I pictured the dancers. I pictured only two dancers through the whole story and I felt I could make so many grades of touch and sound, because it starts with a repeated note – b,b,b,b,c,c,c,c – and I said, “Oh wow, are people going to like it? How can I make it interesting?” Then when I went to the studio recording, it was the first piece I played, because it’s the easiest technically and I used it like a warm-up before the others. And the engineer and the people there, they loved the piece.
Q: As you know, there’s much more to music than flashy technique.
A: Exactly. It’s much more involved that that. And the other tango I chose, Adios Nonino: I have a special story about this tango, because I said “I want to hear how Piazzolla played it” because he played this song on a bandoneon. And then I heard it and I said, “What do I feel about this tango?” There was something I couldn’t understand.
Q: You sensed something elusive.
A: Exactly. Because in Italian, Nono is grandfather. So Piazzolla called his father, Nonino, instead of Nono. He wrote this tango when he was on tour in Latin America. And they called him and they said, “Your father died.” So he came back and he wrote this piece. But I sensed something that doesn’t have to do with death.
Q: It’s not necessarily sad, or at least not always.
A: Exactly. I said to myself – I didn’t read it anyplace – I said to myself, “I know what it is, because I know how much he loved his father.” Probably in these first 16 or 20 measures – I don’t remember, it’s like eight phrases – I think he’s remembering when his father was alive, because the first part has plenty of life with a big rhythm… You see, going to record and interpret, I needed… for me to perform I need to understand the feelings completely. Now listen what happened after. I was sure that in these first measures he was saying, “Daddy, this is what we had when you were alive and now I’m talking about what it’s like now that you are not here.” Because the middle part is, ay, my God!
Q: More tragic?
A: It is really sad. I feel to cry when I’m playing it. But in the first part… I talked about this to a friend, saying, “You know, I hope I had the correct feeling because I don’t feel the first part is sad. And yet he may be really sad.” So I was investigating, investigating, and I asked a friend of mine in Argentina to help me in the research. She sent me an article she found, of course in Spanish, about Piazzolla. You know what I found? Many years ago, he wrote a tango called Nonino when the father was alive. The first part of the tango was the one he took for the final version. It means I was right! When I found that, it confirmed what I felt exactly… Robert, he took it, practically he copied it. In the original Nonino almost the whole tango is about those measures. Then I did something that also was a challenge for me, because at the end, the sad part is repeated four times, but I didn’t want to make each time the same. Because when you are sad it’s never the same and also in music I don’t like to do the same measures the same way twice. I thought, “What would I really feel if I had this melody four times being really sad?” So I did it like when you are so sad that you are desperate and I ended, instead of soft, I ended with a great drama and a great feeling of saying, “This is what it is.”
Q: How is it notated?
A: There are no dynamics indicated.
Q: So you felt free to play it the way you wanted. Would you ever ignore a composer’s written dynamics?
Q: Because there are people who do, sometimes very effectively.
A: I never ignore them, especially after Beethoven… however, in the Piazzolla, the end is open, so he’s giving the interpreter the freedom. When I played it at the Downtown Association two months ago I performed the same version that I did on the CD, ending as I told you, and people loved it. People loved it! The other two tangos are the two I played at Carnegie Hall, Our World and Imperial. I was initially given the opportunity to play Our World because Albino Gomez, who was the person who wrote the lyrics, heard me perform at Lincoln Center. He was a friend of Pizzolla’s, and after he listened to me he told me that he had a piece that was never played on the piano and that he thought I was the one to do it. And it was this piece. Our World was based on a true story about Piazzolla, about how he fell in love with a person in the summertime: It was a summertime love. It was ending, it was very short, and the song describes all the happiness they had and all the sadness. Very, very sad piece. All the sadness they had when they had to separate, it was over, no?
Q: Had you met Albino Gomez before?
A: No. He came to my concert with Georgina Ginastera [the composer’s daughter] and this is the way I met both of them: I didn’t know them in Argentina, never.
Q: And now she travels around the world to hear you.
A: To hear me, yes. She wrote this beautiful poetry about my interpretation of her father’s music. Imperial, the other Piazzolla tango dates from when he was in France. He was fascinated by all the castles, especially Versailles, and he tried to capture some of their magnificent architecture in his music. France was also important to him because it was there that he studied with Nadia Boulanger. She was the one who sensed that the tango was his metier. He wrote everything, symphonies, concertos, but she told him that she felt he had a special talent for the tango.
Q: Looking at photographs of her, her severe expression might lead you to think that she wouldn’t appreciate “light music.” That somebody so thoroughly steeped in classicism and counterpoint wouldn’t appreciate his talent for the tango.
A: Yes. But as we all know, she was right.
Q: How many tangos do you think Piazzolla wrote in his lifetime?
A: I don’t know, but there were many. Sometimes I feel sad because when he was alive nobody gave him the credit he deserved. But now it’s growing and growing and growing. In my first interview, I said that at first I didn’t want to play the tangos, I rejected them and I didn’t know why. But after this friend in Argentina forced me to go to see the movie, The History of Tango, I realized that I didn’t want to face my own melancholy. Because what the tango is, it’s the music and dance of people from Europe who moved to Argentina and found they were alone, they didn’t have family, they had to start everything all over, even if they had money before. They may have had wonderful professions when they were home. My grandfather was a railway engineer in Italy. When he went to Argentina, he went to work in ice factories and he lost all his molars because of the cold. Until he slowly, slowly, slowly built a life… he was one of the best engineers, and he finally found his way. And being that all my family were from Italy, when I finally faced what I felt, I could play the tangos with all my heart.
Q: How did you react to tango before you came to this realization? Would you leave the room?
A: Not leave the room, but I would feel, “It’s not for me.”
Q: Did you think it was low class?
Q: I’m a serious musician! (laughing)
A: Yes, you are reading my feelings exactly. Now, I’m proud of playing it. I said, “How could I be denying myself all those years? No?” Now I love to do it, I feel a special connection with the tangos, and I feel proud that Harris Goldsmith wrote in New York Concert Review that he didn’t appreciate Piazzolla until he came to my Carnegie hall concert.
Q: Do you feel a special identification with him?
A: Yes. With Piazzolla I understand right away what he tries. It’s very important, for me, it’s natural.
Q: Do you think it’s because he was Argentinean?
A: No. It’s something else, because I know other Argentinean pianists who try to play Piazzolla and they say to me, I don’t understand that much. Because when you see the music you don’t have that much besides the notes. There are not so many indications. And sometimes you have to add notes from the chord because they originally come from the bandoneon, they come from the orchestra. Actually, I added a lot of things in the piano version.
Q: Did you write down your additions?
A: Yes, I wrote them down. If you see, for example, the music for Our World, one day I’m going to show you how it was originally. And then, how much I added…
Q: So you didn’t feel inhibited to do that?
A: No, because he wrote many times what was really a reduction from orchestra or bandoneon or from his quintet, so it’s not breaking faith with him to suggest alternatives.
Q: Have you ever done any composition?
A: Yes, I like it very much. When I was 15 years old I was happy composing…
Q: Why did you stop?
A: Because it was a whole other job and I didn’t have time. I studied composition at the conservatory and then I used all the knowledge I achieved there to apply to my interpretation.
Q: When you did compose did you write in a Latin style?
A: In a classical style but at the same time romantic. I wrote a lot. But then I said, this is no good, I love it, but I love more to interpret and then I stopped. But now I realize that I might have this kind of natural approach with Piazzolla because I wouldn’t even remember all the things I added: chords, extra notes, like in the left hand… because sometimes the scores are so raw. For La Ultima Grela, which is so simple, I didn’t need to add that much. But in the others I added a lot.
Q: That’s a question of your personal taste.
A: Yes. But obviously, what I’m proud of is that my personal taste made Harris Goldsmith understand Piazzolla.
Q: You play Villa-Lobos on your CD: have you always liked Brazilian music?
A: I can tell you that I fell in love with Brazilian music when I was living in Teresopolis, in the mountains. I went there to study when I won a scholarship and all the time I was there I was hearing Brazilian music. Not only from my colleagues but from the street. I had this great, great teacher there, who I always mention in my biography, Daisy de Luca, who studied with Magda Tagliaferro. She’s living in Florida now. I contacted her, finally, last year. She always said to me, you have a special talent for the stage. She wanted to bring me here, she was a teacher at Indiana University. She taught there for many, many years and when I met her in Brazil, she said, I want to get a scholarship for you. I said I didn’t want to come because I didn’t speak English. She said it doesn’t matter…
Q: You speak music.
A: Yes. Sometimes I regret I didn’t accept it. But you know, life is what it is. And I ended up here anyway. Back then she introduced me to a lot of Brazilian composers and I fell in love with Villa-Lobos. Around that time I got the music for his Poema Singelo and Valsa Da Dor, but I didn’t play them for a long time even though I loved them because I was playing other Brazilian pieces, Villa-Lobos pieces. For some reason I kept those two pieces to myself. It was only when I appeared at Weill Recital Hall on my arrival in New York that I finally played one. I am in love with Valsa Da Dor. It’s amazing how he managed the form of the piece, the way it alternates sorrow and drama. I have a copy of the original manuscript from the Museum in Sao Paulo and when I studied it I felt that each of the three times the sorrow appears should be played differently. And then I found in a small letter where Villa-Lobos himself said that the first part should be a little bit faster, the second part Moderato, and in the third part, the sorrow is Lento. This is why, when I hear other pianist’s interpretations, their performances are often faster than mine: They do all the sorrowful parts at the same speed while mine is longer because I respect the composer’s wishes.
Q: The other Villa-Lobos piece, Poema Singelo, has some very lively parts and it seems to require a lot of dexterity.
A: Yes. A lot of dexterity, there’s a lot of intricate chromaticism. What I have found in his pieces is that you have to take your time to make the connection between the different parts: They are so different in each piece of Villa-Lobos. His mood can change abruptly. As an interpreter I want to make everything clear to the audience and in this music I don’t have the luxury of saying “here’s the first movement, now here’s the second,” and so on. Nazareth is different in that I don’t have to struggle to integrate the various parts of each composition. His tangos are very famous. The rhythms in most of them are the same but it’s very alive. And I love this Odeon piece.
Q: Is it named for the theater?
A: Yes. He played there himself. It’s beautiful. It has three parts. One is imitating the guitar, the second is more melancholic, and the last one is like a tango tango – the epitome of a tango. My audiences really, really like this piece. I don’t like it when pianists play it fast straight through because I think it has to so much beauty, there are so many things you can do there, and I try to do that. The same experience I have with – I’m going to Spain now – La Maja et el ruisenor. I love that piece. And I feel why Granados identified himself with Goyescas. Because he felt that he could recreate in all these pieces the ultimate romanticism. A treasured memory of mine is of hearing Alicia de la Rocha playing La Maja.
Q: Was she the first person you heard playing this piece?
A: No, but I heard her playing it in Spain when I went to the seminar, and I fell in love with it.
Q: It’s a wonderful piece. As a matter of fact, I think I first heard it on a piano roll that Granados himself made.
A: Yes, I’m very sure there was one. When I heard it, I said, this is the piece I identify my romanticism with.
Q: It’s a perfect piece, a lovely piece.
A: The dialogue between the nightingale and the woman.
Q: I haven’t heard any performance but yours recently, but I have a feeling you made more out of the introduction than some other pianists. I don’t know if I’m right, but it seems you play it slower, with a deeper tone.
A: No, no, no. You are so sensitive. It’s true, I do it as you say, because for me that part is a dialogue, it’s an introduction to what comes later. Many pianists play that part faster but I wanted to give to each sound a depth… You know, sometimes I think people are going to say that my performances are longer than in other interpretations, but it’s not because I cannot do it technically, it’s because I found other layers of expression. The same happened to me with the Allegro Concierto [Granados], which is of course technically very difficult, but I try not to rush too much. When we were recording it – this is very funny – I was with the engineer and after listening to this so much myself I was having a hard time deciding which take to choose – this is the worst part, to choose, it’s very difficult – then I said, oh, this is faster, maybe this is… but he said, Rosa, I like the other, I understand it more. He was just the engineer but that helped me so much.
Q: You trusted his opinion?
A: Oh, yes, completely, because he’s a great engineer, great musician. And then when I listened to the one I chose, I was happy, because in the middle part the lyrical part, why I should rush there?
Q: I think you’ll appreciate this anecdote as recounted by Harold Schonberg in his book The Great Pianists: “Recalling Clara Schumann, Adelina de Lara wrote that if a student tried ‘to rattle through any rapid figuration with mere empty virtuosity,’ Clara would throw up her hands in despair. ‘Keine passage!’ she would cry. ‘Why hurry over beautiful things? Why not linger and enjoy them?'”
A:[laughs] You see! Yes. I really, really love the Allegro. I never get tired of performing it, I feel very comfortable. I feel that the romanticism at its heart has to be shown. You have to show the romanticism in the middle, no? Even if he wrote it for a competition, to be the most difficult piece, he never lost the romanticism and the beautiful… When I’m playing the piece, I don’t feel I’m playing just a technical exercise.
Q: Well that’s the challenge in playing an etude, isn’t it? You want to make music, which is not always easy because some of them are so hard. [both laugh]
A: And now I’d like to say a few words about the other composer on the CD, Albeniz, whom of course I love. There are two pieces from his Suite Espanola, “Cadiz” and “Granada.” “Granada” reminds me of my year living in Spain after I got the Rosa Salvatore award: All my feelings from Spain come back to me, the happiness of the people, their enjoyment of life, the romanticism… I love “Granada.” I love “Cadiz” also but I’m especially connected with “Granada” because it’s such a serenade. It’s like… it’s a special piece you would play to show your feelings to somebody else. Imitating the guitar, the flamenco… This is why Remembranza is not only about Carnegie Hall; it’s because Carnegie Hall made me come back to the places I love to be, like when I was in Brazil, or when I was in Spain… And they were those places where I was really, really happy. Like when I was in Brazil and the other students went to Rio de Janeiro on the weekend and I kept practicing for myself for two days, Saturday and Sunday, all the pianos for me, no? And when I was in Spain and it was such a wonderful experience, meeting Alicia de la Rocha, meeting Daisy de Luca in Brazil, getting all her experiences from Magda Tagliafero, all of this. And then, at the end of the CD I play L’Automne Waltz because I believe that a recital should be like a flower: it’s the sum of its petals, and in this case, L’Automne Waltz completes the design. I’ve had it for a long time in my music collection, and I said, “One day I’m going to learn it.” Then I found out that in New York nobody had played it and it had only been recorded once. And of course I love waltzes. I love this piece. There’s so much you can do to recreate – in each repetition you can recreate a new thing. No? And at the end the coda gathers all the different waltzes [the piece is composed in sections, each with its own waltz]. They come together like a recapitulation of the whole waltz. The coda is itself marvelous. It’s not a very, very famous piece, but it was the right one for the occasion. And when I hear it, I remember what Harris Goldsmith wrote, that I played all those pieces at Carnegie Hall with amore.
Q: Well, Rosa, I think it’s true that everything on Remembranza is also played con amore. So thank you for a most pleasant conversation, and best of luck with your future projects.
A: Thank you so much, Robert. Ciao.