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20 Reviews, from 1 to 10  [ Pages:  1 2 ]
20 Mar 2011
Fanfare Music Magazine
Robert Schulslaper


CASI UNA PREGUNTA…CASI UNA RESPUESTA • Martha Marchena (pn) • MSR 1219 (55:09)

DE LA VEGA Toccata. RODRÍGUEZ Como el agua en el agua. VÁZQUEZ Rapsodia Acquamarina. POTES Tres Piezas Breves para Piano. CÁCERES Laconicas. PIÑERA Del Libro Antes del Desayuno LAVISTA Simurg. CORDERO Cinco Preludios Nuevos

            There’s power and passion aplenty in Martha Marchena’s recital of Latin American piano music, but that’s only part of what makes her artistry so satisfying. In the end, I’d say it’s her deep involvement with each work and her knack for finding and recreating its essence that establishes her as the formidable pianist she is. Her dynamic subtleties, rhythmic drive, and fluid transitions between contrasting episodes, along with her wide variety of touch and color, all components of pianistic mastery, can be summed up in one word: musicianship. Her program ranges from music that bears a slight resemblance to Ginastera to pieces written under the twelve-tone banner, and Marchena brings them all vividly to life. Aurelio de la Vega’s Toccata, dedicated to pianist Jorge Bolet, alternates between rapid cascades of notes and tranquil lyricism. This is not a hammered, brutally insistent toccata à la Prokofiev, but nonetheless one that generates considerable excitement with flowing but propulsive unison passages. Marchena outlines Rodríguez’s Como el agua en el agua with crystalline delicacy and sensitivity to the rippling flow of this “water music.” Vásquez’s Rapsodia Acquarmarina, written for Marchena, is more overtly Latin than Rodríguez’s piece and melds thematic tension to Caribbean rhythms. Marchena is suitably rhapsodic, dramatically forceful, or tender in a  reading that integrates the episodic nature of the form into a coherent whole. Although I’m not enamored of the Schoenbergian style of Potes’s Tres Pieza Brevas, nonetheless, Marchena’s riveting performance successfully portrays them as convincing, if atonal, narratives. Perhaps it’s my imagination, but the music seems to have a hidden Latin heart pulsing beneath the intimidating surface. Cáceres’s Laconicas.  pianistic aphorisms written in the same severe style, are more concentrated and correspondingly brief: the first of the eight lasts for only twenty seconds. Throughout the set, intense, fast-moving moments alternate with spare evocations of musical “space.” Piñera’s Del Libro Antes del Desayuno (Book Before Breakfast) is a collection of pieces stemming from a novel idea: As a form of self-discipline, Piñera wouldn’t allow himself to eat until he’d composed a complete piece. The two that Marchena has chosen are lyrical and melodic, one momentarily more energetic than the other, that both convey a feeling of a peaceful dawning to a new day. Lavista’s Simurg, named for the mythological King of the birds, is mysterious, atmospheric, and colorful. Marchena’s imaginative performance suggests that she’d be an excellent interpreter of the Impressionist repertoire. Cordero’s Preludes are written in a twelve-tone technique, but one “closer to Berg’s ways than to Schoenberg’s or Webern’s usage” (from Aurelio de la Vega’s extensive program notes). The third prelude, oddly, reminded me of Prokofiev, and its motoric rhythms offer a refreshing departure from the twelve-tone dogma that shunned repetition of either motives or pulse. The reference to Berg must surely be to his later style, and certainly not to the world of Romantic, although harmonically fluid, Piano Sonata. Cordero’s voice, at least as heard here, is far more angular than that of Berg’s Opus 1. Marchena plays the Preludes with controlled vigor and respect for their emotive fluctuations. All told, the composers of this fascinatingly varied program have an ideal interpreter in Marchena, and I’d like very much to hear more of her persuasive playing. Recommended to anyone who’d like to experience outstanding contemporary Latin American music

1 Sep 2006
Plaifield Public library
Plaifield New Jersey
Joe Da Rold " I don't know which adjetive to start with; awsome, amazing.wonderful, crowd-pleasing, or exiciting. They all describe my felings and that of our audience for your January 5th recital. It was a wonderful evening, with a beautiful performer playing a beautiful program."
1 Oct 2004
American Record Guide

"Martha Marchena's performances are poetic and assertive."

21 May 2004
The Republican
Ciudad Real Newspaper, Spain

"…This recital showed an impressive musicality in all the interpretations of a very complex and demanding program. Her powerful playing reflects an intense and emotional approach that it is very personal and indeed very convincing"

12 Jul 2003
Diario de las Américas
Miami, Florida, USA
Uva Clavijo

"...Pianist of international stature..."

26 Mar 2003
The Star-Ledger
CD: Canción Sin Palabras

"Latin-American piano music
Martha Marchena, piano (Musicians Showcase)

Martha Marchena is professor and coordinator of the keyboard studies at Kean University, but before she emigrated from Cuba in 1979 she was one of that country's rising young stars. This delightful new release shows why she caught to command more attention on the American scene. Her curatorial instinct is sharp and her piano abilities insightful in this collection of piano works by Venezuelan, Brazilian, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Colombian, Argentinian and Cuban composers that bypasses the usual suspects. Villa-Lobos and Piazzola are given a passing nod, but this is a colorful, widely varied assemblage of musical voices that reveal a glorious quilt work. All this composers share a common keen feeling for the use of rhythm as a propelling device, but the individual sensibility varies widely from Broadway-like melodies to ragtime, miniature dances to ballads sung by the piano itself. Marchena crisply and liltingly delivers everything from Moisés Moleiro's "Joropo", with its rumbling left hand ostinato, to Santo Domincan composer Licinio Mancebo's introspective "Song without words", for which the disc is named."

1 Jul 2002
American Record Guide
CD: Canción Sin Palabras

"Canción Sin Palabras
Traditional Latin American Piano
Musicians Showcase 1054 – 71 minutes

The title means Song Without Words, but much of the music strikes me as meant to evoke folk dances, Latin American salon music, or South American Scott Joplin. Cuban-born pianist Martha Marchena is an excellent musician, bringing out the music's rhythmic life and verve.

The listener will find a cornucopia of 24 pieces running two to four minutes, with a few running up to five minutes. It is a sampling of music from Puerto Rico, Cuba, Central and South America.

Many of the melodies run in thirds or sixths. Syncopations abound. And you know what they say about music if it "ain't got that swing". Well, this does! It sways and swings, inviting the listener to do the same, and revealing as many ways of syncopating a melody as one might think of.

Think casual, think charm, and you'll get the idea. Even the work of Argentineans Astor Piazolla and one of his teachers Alberto Ginastera lean more toward the casual, melancholy, less intense end of the range of Latin temperament. But in the final offering, Malambo, Ginastera reverts to his more typical wild-eyed intensity. Wonderful!

This release offers one-no, two plusses: out-of-the-mainstream music worth exploring, played with sympathetic warmth and intelligent musicianship."

9 Jun 2002
Miami Herald
Miami, Florida, USA
CD: Canción Sin Palabras

"Piano virtuoso Martha Marchena, is no stranger to this column. Cancion sin Palabras (Song without Words) is her follow up to Sonoric Rituals. This release pays homage to the masters of our America, with a repertoire that spans the whole continent. The focus on this cd is on traditional piano work. Martha covers an ample geographical and temporal spectrum, including: Moises Moliero, Luisa Elena Paesano, Heitor Villa-Lobos, Licinio Mancebo, Manuel Ponce, Juan Morel Campos, Manuel Tavares, Olimpio Otero, Luis A. Calvo, Jose White, Antonio Maria Romeu, Ernesto Lecuona.

With such a diversity in style and resonance Martha shows us once more what she can do at the keyboard, giving the listener a melodic mosaic that is a dedicated study of Latin American piano music, with a style that leaves the listener with a desire to hear more from this talented artist."

24 Apr 2001
Los Angeles Times
California, USA
Josef Woodward

"...played with exquisite flair and objective cool..."
"...the work's complex fury of notes, unleashed with flourish by Marchena..."

19 Apr 2001
El Nuevo Herald
Juana Rosa Pita

"...the authority, pianism, coloring and the sensitivity..."
"...it went beyond interpreting, she gave life to Aurelio de la Vega's score."
"...though small in stature, she's a giant at the keyboard..."

20 Reviews, from 1 to 10  [ Pages:  1 2 ]
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