Waltz has been one of the most prominent music forms in Venezuela, so much it has become an integral part of the country's culture and folklore. A Music-oriented culture had been present in Venezuela since the colonial times, mostly thanks to the work by Father Sojo (1739-1799), the creator and driving force of a music movement which encompassed the whole country and always kept contact with European culture and musicians. In the 19th century financial difficulties and social conditions made it difficult to organise theatre events and to form orchestras. Such situation, as well as the spreading of the "romantic" ideas coming from Europe, encouraged the developing of music forms that were more suitable to the "chamber" environment, music composed at home and for few instruments, dances for piano, songs, and so on. The Viennese Waltz, among all dances, soon became very important and popular, but was transformed by the contact with the culture and the traits of the Venezuelan people, growing richer with livelier rhythmic figures on the one hand, and with a bigger emphasis on the expressiveness of melodic lines on the other.
The CD offers an anthology of 19th century Venezuelan waltzes, featuring compositions by the most prominent authors, such as Delgado Palacios, Heraclio Fernandez and Federico Vollmer, as well as by minor musicians, perhaps not as well-known but just as interesting and enjoyable in their liveliness and musical wealth. Among these, it is interesting to note the relatively large number of women.
The cover photo shows a sculpture by Luca Strona, titled "Duratura precarietà dell'instabile leggerezza" (Lasting precariousness of unstable lightness); the ball resting on a tight rope stretching towards the sky, an impossible equilibrium according to the laws of physics, yet true, fits in and emphasises a particular aspect of Venezuelan Waltz: its miraculous balance between a European, Chopinian, lyrical atmosphere, and the rhythmic liveliness of South-American music, tottering, as if on a razor's edge, between these two elements, seemingly so difficult to reconcile yet joint together and generating new, original and beautiful music.
Audiophile recording: made in August-September 2005 by valve microphones and pre-amplifiers 96 kHz digital sampling rate. The techniques have been selected with the aim to create in the listeners the sensation to be seated playing piano themselves.
Steinway Grand Piano - model S 155.
Pier Paolo Strona is a civil engineer, researcher in the field of the numerical models of structures, photographer and author of books and calendars. He is a pianist performing both in Italy and abroad, with a repertoire ranging from the most important classical copmsers to ragtime, Latin American as well as asian music.
Thanks to Venezuelan pianist Carmen Sampaolo, who has long been living in Italy, for introducing me to the world of music from her country of origin, and to Paola Mazza Ortega, who helped me from Caracas in my search for the scores by keeping contacts with the "Vicente Emilio Sojo" Foundation, an important Institute of Musicology and reference point for research on Venezuelan and Latin American music.