RODRIGO RUIZ (b.1988): Violin Sonata in F, R.6, Piano Trio in A, R.9, A Riveder le Stelle in D Minor, R.8.
Catalogue Number: 04W065
Description: Why would a 32-year old Mexican composer domiciled in Italy want to write music that sounds exactly as though it flowed from the pen of Beethoven, Schumann, or Brahms? Not for effect, or notoriety, or a desire to be reactionary; just because he earnestly believes that that is the best kind of music. Fair enough. Admirers of the titans of the Romantic era who have always nursed a secret resentment that their idols' output is actually not unlimited will have occasion to rejoice that not only does Ruiz appear to agree with them, but that he has ample technique with which to do something about it. His only formal advanced study was with the noted theory teacher at the renowned Rome Conservatory of Music Santa Cecilia, Francesco Tulli, but otherwise his instruction in composition was from his "mentor in absentia", Beethoven, through an extensive study of his scores. These works are diatonic, moreover following modulation schemes instantly recognisable from Ruiz' models. After a slow introduction, the substantial 4-movement Violin Sonata comprises a lyrical first movement with a pastoral atmosphere, followed by a contrasting, gently eloquent recitativo. The third movement is energetic, propulsive and exceedingly reminiscent of Schumann, but in an unexpected twist the finale is actually the true slow movement of the piece, a radiant adagio with a sense of philosophical contemplation. The splendid Trio is Brahmsian in harmony and texture, with a passionately argued, lyrical opening movement, a tempestuous middle movement and a very Beethovenian theme and variations on an expansive scale, lasting nearly a quarter-hour, running the gamut of Romantic expression and character. "Behold the Stars" was inspired by a passage in Dante’s "Inferno" depicting the emergence from an underworld vision of Lucifer's banners advancing through the mists, into a starlit night. This rapt, bleak programmatic scena is the only piece here that betrays its contemporary origins, through some instrumental textures (natural harmonics, extended double-stopping, ricochet bowing), but not its D minor tonality, nor the radiantly lovely closing adagio symbolising the infernal shadows giving way to the light of the stars. Serena Peacock (violin), Laura van der Heijden (cello), Huw Watkins (piano).