Andrea Casarrubios, The Wayfarer Of The Strings and The World

Andrea Casarrubios

Andrea Casarrubios, cellist, pianist and composer.

I get up on a Sunday morning as usual. I go out for an early breakfast with my father, a ritual that these days I can only do at the weekends. It has been a while since I last had a look at the classical music new releases section on iTunes. I decide to take a look when I get back home. For different reasons, there are three CDs recently released in February 2019 which draw my attention: the pianist Kirill Gerstein performs the Concerto in C major, op. 29 by Ferruccio Busoni (1866-1924) on Myrios Classics; the picture of some Camille Pépin, a young French composer I have never heard of, appears on the cover of Chamber Music, a CD on Elegant People; then I happen to see another cover of a CD on Odradek Records. The title “Caminante” (Wayfarer) and the name Andrea Casarrubios catch my attention. I have never heard of this woman either. I google her name on the Internet. I find out that Andrea Casarrubios is a Spanish cellist. She also studied piano as a child and later, when she moved to the United States, she studied composition with no more no less than John Corigliano! In fact, the works in the album Caminante have been written by Andrea Casarrubios herself. I keep looking up on some web pages and I can read that she was born in San Esteban del Valle —a little village in the province of Avila, in Castille, Spain— in 1988. She was brought up in Arenas de San Pedro. When I read “Arenas de San Pedro“, I recall the times when, as a child, my parents use to take me to a natural swiming pool of freezing water in Arenas de San Pedro. Who knows, I might even have come across Andrea there when she was little! I also happen to read that Andrea Casarrubios is quite successful in the United States and that she is living now in New York. I don’t know if it was because of my memories of that swimming pool or because of the title Caminante or just because I found it really interesting that Andrea Casarrubios has a successful career in the States, the thing is that I ended up requesting Andrea’s friendship on Facebook and purchasing her CD. Actually, I am listening to Caminante while I am writing these lines.

The first piece is the one that gives the name to the CD, Caminante. It was written in 2014 for cello and choir. It is based on a famous poem by Spanish writer Antonio Machado (1875-1939): A path, Wayfarer, there is none / As you walk on, the path is done. The piece starts with the cello singing a kind of lament, as if Andrea would walk her fingers along the strings of melancholy creating a beautiful melody. Then joins the choir singing the verses of Machado. On the booklet which accompanies this recording, I can read Andrea’s own words saying that she dedicates this work to Alicia Rodríguez Blanco, who guided and supported her throughout her studies and trips abroad.

The next work is Speechless, composed for cello and percussion (vibraphone, cymbal and marimba) duo. It starts with the smooth sound of vibraphone later joined by the cello on lower strings. This work seems to be a journey which starts by the end and it tries to give an answer to the following question: what does it mean to have a voice? Andrea wants this piece to be an experience based on the dialogue of the inner voices of one’s self, following that maxim of never visiting the same place twice. In her search for this vital centre, it looks as if she would be sculpting the music backwards, as if you took off the layers of a finished painting until the first trace, the essence, appeared. Garret Arney is the percussionist who embarks on this Speechless journey towards the essence in a harmonic dialogue with Andrea’s strings and bow.

In Crisol (Melting Pot), Andrea Casarrubios shows her skills and exquisite musicality on the piano. Crisol is an improvisation based on motives from the Sonata no. 39 by Haydn (1732-1809). In words of this Spanish composer and musician, the improvisations begin with my own harmonic and textural language, soon to melt into a musical world from the Romantic era. The music walks through a jazz-like moment and then unveils the purity and simplicity of Classicism, with the second movement of Haydn’s Sonata No. 39, which is harmonically linked to his last movement, the Finale. In fact, the work following Crisol is the Finale of Haydn’s sonata; both blend beautifully as if it were just one and only musical work.

Next piece is Maktub, a trio for cellos. Andrea wrote it while she was living in Los Angeles for the 6th Luigi Boccherini Festival of Arenas de San Pedro, Spain. In Maktub, the cellists Thomas Mesa and Ismar Gomes go along with Andrea Casarrubios on another musical trip full of the flavours of different cultures from Asia, America, Africa and Europe. Maktub finishes with a reference to the last movement of the Sonata opus 109 of Beethoven (1770-1827). Andrea dedicated this work to her parents. How proud they must be of the fabulous artist their daughter is!

The last work of this album is La Libertad se levantó llorando (Liberty rose weeping), a duo for violin and cello written by Andrea on request from the violinist Emily Daggett Smith, who also plays on this recording. It is based on a Pablo Neruda’s poem of the same name. The violin and the cello start a dialogue in a musical cry full of the agresiveness and the vulnerability of the words of those who fight for freedom in the world. Eight and a half minutes into the work, you can hear a female voice reciting Neruda’s poem and I assume it is Andrea’s voice.

With this album, Andrea Casarrubios has shown, with great sensitivity and personal touch, that she is a wayfarer of the strings and the world. Using her fingers and compositional imaginación, Andrea has taken music and emotions closer to the ears of people who dwell upon this planet Earth. Music, dear listener, there is none. As silence walks on the music is gone.

Michael Thallium

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