FEMMES COMPOSITRICES (WOMEN COMPOSERS) – ADALBERTO MARIA-RIVA, PIANO
Women Composers: Marianne MARTINES : Piano Sonata in A Major: I. Allegro – Piano Sonata in A Major: II. Adagio – Piano Sonata in A Major: III. Tempo di Minuetto – Maria SZYMANOWSKA : Nocturne in B-Flat Major – Fanny HÜNERWADEL : Introductions, Variations et Rondo – Clara SCHUMANN : Drei Romanzen, Op. 21: I. Andante – Drei Romanzen, Op. 21: II. Allegretto. Sehr zart zu spielen – Drei Romanzen, Op. 21: III. Agitato – Cirilla Branca CAMBIASI : Variazioni (First Recording) – Germaine TAILLEFERRE : Romance in A Major – Cécile CHAMINADE : Arabesque No. 2, Op. 92 (First Recording) – Lucia Contini ANSELMI : Sibylla Cumaea, Op. 15 (First Recording) – Amy BEACH : Two Pieces, Op. 54: I. Scottish Legend – Two Pieces, Op. 54: II. Gavotte Fantastique.
Adalberto Maria-Riva, Piano.
Women and the piano: a fusional relationship
The pianist Adalberto Maria Riva is a master of the current piano repertoire. For a good decade, however, curiosity has pushed him to leave the beaten path and search libraries for forgotten works. Another important objective was to arrange these works as thematic units. The recordings he has published in the past bear witness to this.The common denominator of the works, included in this CD, is that they were composed for the piano by women, mainly in the 19th century, in different European countries.
This proposed selection gives an overview of piano music from the Western world, from the Viennese Sonata of the 1760s to two free-form pieces written in the United States in 1903. As you listen, a story unfolds of piano music, written by artists who are both composers and performers.
If, at the beginning of the 21st century, the question of genre in music is theoretically resolved, it is nonetheless useful to recall the very particular link that women had with the piano from the emergence of a bourgeois culture. Since the 18th century, gender stereotypes have tended to confine women to their homes and to give them a static role of representation.
The typical bourgeois woman remained at home with her music. These stereotypes demonstrably slowed the careers of musicians, since travelling to different cities is a necessity of the profession. Also restricted was the choice of instruments. The keyboard instrument became the privileged partner of the bourgeois woman. The upright sitting position, the absent gaze and relatively limited hand movements were all criteria that allowed her to practice music in accordance with conventions.
The 19th century saw several revolutions, the most important being probably that from 1800, the music was not necessarily functional, that is to say not related to a particular activity, like divine service, dance, military parade, theatrical performances etc. Music became an art in its own right that we practice and listen to for ourselves. The bourgeoisie, anxious to respond to the leisure of the nobility, created spaces of musical sociability both in the family home and in the concert halls. The piano was the ideal choice. A real piano industry was created from the end of the 18th century, inventions and improvements succeeding one another at a frantic pace to arrive at the instrument we know today. At the same time, the phenomenon of the itinerant virtuoso artist took off in Europe. The piano repertoire took into account these situations, creating pieces for different occasions.
Despite the conventions, women quickly occupied concert stages in the 19th century. Accepted by the public, they nevertheless had to face music criticism and social criticism. A woman on stage, exposing herself and exposing her artistic know-how and emotions, made herself vulnerable and her respectability was automatically compromised. Worse: the Russian pianist Anton Rubinstein said in an interview, in 1892: «The invasion of women in the musical art both on instruments and in composition dates from the second half of our century [the 19th]; I think this invasion contributes to the decline of our art».
It is therefore not surprising that music historians have not cultivated the memory of women’s contribution to musical culture. The anthology proposed by Adalberto Maria Riva is an overview of different musical performance situations, according to the activities of their authors. For four of these works, these are first world recordings.