“I realized during the pandemic, playing and making videos from home, of the intrinsic value of music and art in general“, warns the Argentine pianist Marcela Roggeri.
“It is precisely the question of the union that Sofia Gubaidulina talks about, the ‘legato’ of life with oneself and with others, through music. And with everything that happens to us, for me music has that mission of union“, Adds the artist, about to premiere in Argentina Introitus, concert for piano and orchestra by the composer born in Tatarstan, this Friday, November 19 at the Colón.
Roggeri has the particularity of being the only disciple of Bruno Gelber, although the very varied family musical universe influenced her training and openness to other types of music: a very tango father, a Salta mother who loves folklore, and a brother, Alfi Martins , keyboardist for Charly García for many years.
Marcela Roggeri and the Teatro Colón, a bond that is reinforced this Friday, November 19. Photo German Garcia Adrasti
Debut at 17
When she was 12 years old, she began to study with Ana, Bruno’s mother, from whom he “inherited” her as a student, as she tends to joke. At 17 he gave his first concert in the Colosseum, a recital part and the other with an orchestra. It was a litmus test because I had only been studying for five years.
“You float or sink forever. It was to kill or be killed”recalls Roggeri. “Of course Bruno was confident but it was also a very big pressure because he did not want to disappoint and wanted to be up to the task. I had many lessons from that experience ”.
At 23, Marcela moved to Monte Carlo to continue studying with Bruno, they played together and did many concerts on two pianos. “It was a wonderful time in which I learned a lot,” recalls the pianist.
“In all those trips with Bruno I not only learned strictly musical matters but everything that has to do with the life of a concert performer: from the more and less wonderful side. It was a teaching and a school. It was all a lesson in music, art, and so many things that I have learned simply by watching it ”. No other Gelber student had the privilege of sharing that level of intimacy with the musician.
A testimony of the reunion of the “disciple” with her teacher, on Roggeri’s Instagram account
A crisis and the citizens of the world
Even so, in the comings and goings between Europe and Argentina and in the midst of a crisis, studied theater with Norman Briski, took a break, lived in Singapore, where she met her husband and stopped giving concerts. However, little by little, he became friends again with the piano, moved to Paris and continued his studies with Germaine Dévèze, a student of Marguerite Long, with whom Gelber had studied.
“She was an excellent teacher. It gave me a lot. I was going to play for her regularly, “he says, adding:” After a year I went to live in London, but I went to and from Paris. Dévèze suggested that I enter a contest. I did it, in an amateur contest, and I won it “
The point was that the one who had come second created a scandal in the Radio France auditorium because said that Roggeri could not be the winner because she was not an amateur but a professional. As a result of the proposal, they gave him the first prize.
But the unfortunate episode made many businessmen contact her to return to give concerts. “This is how I came back, but with a different perspective, with a premise that I always try to respect: enjoyment,” completes the pianist, who arrives on this Friday 19th at the Colón stage on this path.
The poetic connection with Sofía Gubaidulina
-How did you get to Gubaidulina’s music? Because, although you have a wide repertoire, you do not dedicate yourself to contemporary music.
-I think you have to be open to discovering, because if you are open to the new you suffer less all the surprises that life sends you and the successive adaptations. But, punctually, Sofia Gubaidulina’s music comes to me through a Russian poet named Marina Tsvetaeva.
A few years ago I did a show Live in fire, with Elena Tasisto and directed by Alejandro Tantanián, with texts by Tsvetaeva and music by Gubaidulina. He knew the name of the composer but not very much her work.
I began to gain insight into her musical world and the idea of recording the album with the complete work for solo piano came up. Introitus comes later. I was discovering that sound universe little by little.
-Could you describe the universe of the composer?
-In his childhood, which was very hard, his parents managed with a lot of effort to buy him a piano. She took the keyboard as a playful field, he played with his sister, also music, on the keyboard. And that playful, innocent aspect, he kept and projected in his way of writing.
He is a very nostalgic person. Despite having suffered many deprivations and having a very bad time with his family, there is a permanent evocation of childhood. That is one of the axes in his work. The other fundamental axis is the religious side. He is a deeply religious person.
-With a very particular sense of religion, right?
-Yes, she says she understands religion as “re-linking.” Rebuilding the “legato” of his life and rebuilding the links between others. There is no more important occupation in his life, he maintains, you rebuild your spiritual integrity through what you write.
That religious side is always very present in his music. Besides coming from a family very catholic, on the mother’s side, and muslim via the father. Her grandfather was a mullah and she always remembers those prayers and meditations, which she also has in her work.
Compose in the USSR and not die trying
-Under the Soviet regime it must have had to repress these religious practices, as well as its musical writing.
-Totally. In fact, for many years his music and was considered “irresponsible”, subversive, and was prohibited. She thanks her teacher Dimitri Shostakovich for encouraging her to continue on that “wrong” path. His two models or sources of inspiration, as he said on several occasions, were Shostakovich and Anton Webern.
Although it is not seen in an obvious way in any element of his music, he says that he always kept as a teaching that both composers fought to be themselves.
– Did it cost you a lot to develop your career?
–He had an uphill struggle to make his way into the Soviet Union. Not because of the fact that she was a woman but because of the type of music she made. But later on, she tried to be open as far as she could. The strongest fighting moment was between the ages of 20 and 30.
Later, when the regime calmed down, legitimized himself as one of the most important Russian music figures. At the end of the eighties he moved to Germany, but he traveled a lot in Europe because Gidon Kremer premiered his violin concerto and Mstislav Rostropovich his cello concerto.
Composer Sofia Gubaidulina had to face the restrictions imposed by the Soviet regime on artistic freedom. Photo Matthias Hoenig / via AFP
The challenges of a work that floats
-Gubaidulina’s piano writing departs from the classical piano tradition. What challenges did you face when studying his work?
-When you start to read it, you say: “What do I do with this?” Because it is not reading the notes and studying the difficult passages. From the outset, you have to look for the sound and the resources to achieve it. Music has to float, says the composer.
There are all kinds of technical difficulties to be solved and transcend to achieve that effect that she wants to be atmospheric. There are some moments of more aggressiveness, but always keeping the timbral. A lot of work has to be done to illuminate the sound.
There are several things that I was passionate about this work when I met it, there was no recording, and that is quite a challenge because you are discovering the work with the score of the orchestra (which does not have a traditional structure at all), imagining how it can sound.
And from the piano point of view, beyond the spiritual part and the style, she always says that first take the piano as a percussion instrument, and plays a lot with the instrument.
Marcela Roggeri in Buenos Aires, about to tackle the challenge of playing a defiant composer. Photo German Garcia Adrasti
-How is the interaction between the piano and the orchestra?
-At first they are separated and little by little they begin to intertwine. We are used to a work that develops, explodes and then decays. Introitus it goes and it comes, it goes to a place and to something that is not going to happen. As she says, Introitus it is the spiritual preparation for something that will happen next, like the introduction to the mass.
A “very feminine” night
-The concert provides another peculiarity with an unusual feminine presence: of the three works that are going to be heard, two are composed by women, Hilda Dianda and Gubaidulina, and you as a soloist under the direction of another woman. Did you know the Brazilian director Natalia Larangeira?
-Yes, we have a very feminine night. We did not know each other with the director, she is charming and very committed to the play. We were working on intertwining the piano with the orchestra. The exchanges with her are very interesting; It is the first time he has done the concert and it is a premiere in Argentina.
I think it is important to have a disposition and a dedication playing this music so that the other, the audience, can enter this universe.
Marcela Roggeri will perform this Friday, November 19, at 8 p.m., at the Colón Theater, with the Buenos Aires Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Natalia Larangeira. Program: “Music for bows” by Hilda Dianda; “Introitus, for piano and chamber orchestra”, by Sofía Gubaidulina and “Serenata N ° 2, Op. 16, by Johannes Brahms.
On November 26, Roggeri will present Piazzolla’s dream, recorded for Universal with flutist James Strauss, currently available on digital platforms.
Reference from clarin