Thursday, 21 March 2013

Forgotten Divas: Teresa Carreño

Teresa Carreño, ca. 1903 (picture from Wikipedia)

Born in  Venezuela in 1853, Teresa Carrneño was an internationally acclaimed singer, pianist, composer and conductor. She debuted very early - only 10 years old, she performed for Abraham Lincoln - and moved to Europe in 1866, where she toured as an opera singer and pianist. She composed, among other things, over 40 works for piano, but her greatest hit was a piece called Tendeur. Mme. Carreño also lived a rather interesting personal life, being married no less than 4 times and having altogether 5 surviving children.

By lucky chance, she recorded some music in 1905 so we can actually here her play today. Among pieces she recorded is the Chopin Ballade No. 1 in G minor Op. 23.


In December 1902, she appeared in London and played, among other things, this very same Chopin ballade. The Times was reasonably impressed:

"Mme. Teresa Carreño has long held a place of undisputed supremacy among virtuousi of her sex, and the program of her recital, given on Monday afternoon in Bechstein-hall, is surely a sign that she is no laying stress upon the interpretative side of her art rather than on its merely technical side. With the exception of a formidable "étude de concert" by E. MacDowell, with which it concluded, there was not a note which pianists of ordinary calibre could not execute with certainty, and there must have been at least half-a-dozen people in the audiende whose repertory includes all that Mme. Carreño played. The sonatas were the "appassionata" of Beethoven, and Schumann's in G minor, op. 22, labelles in the programme "Sorasch (sic) wie möglich," as if that were the title of the whole sonata, instead of the direction for the first movement. The Chopin selection included two preludes, in D flat and B flat respectively, the nocturne in C sharp minor, the fine and rarely-hear polonaise in E flat minor, the ballade in G minor, and, for an encore, the éurde in A flat. Tchaikovsky's pretty "Chant sans Paroles" in F, and Rubinstein's barcarolle in G, completed the proamme, and Henselt's "Si oiseau j'étais" was given afterwards as an encore. The player was at her best in Chopin and later composers, but parts of the Schumann sonata were finely interpreted; her style has gained very remarkably in breadth and her splendid tone and the absolute certainty of her execution remain what they were."
Source Citation: 
"Concerts." Times [London, England] 10 Dec. 1902: 4. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 9 Dec. 2012.
Teresa Carreño died in 1917 in New York and today, the second largest theatre in South America, the Teresa Carreño Cultural Complex in Careras in Venezuela, carries her name, as does, oddly enough, a crater on Venus.

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