Noelia Rodiles: The Butterfly Effect

Noelia Rodiles is known for her versatility and musicality as a pianist. In this interview, she shares intimate details about her album, “The Butterfly Effect,” as well as her work with rediscovering forgotten pieces.
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Noelia Rodiles’ new album, The Butterfly Effect, has been nominated for a Latin Grammy, and its repertoire is exciting. That’s why we wanted to talk to this Spanish pianist about it.

Noelia, what was the inspiration for this album?

The concept was something that I thought of some years ago. It’s creating a dialogue between the excellent core repertoire and fantastic new music. I chose three romantic pieces by three composers I love: Schumann, Schubert, and Mendelssohn, and I got in touch with three contemporary Spanish composers: Jesús Rueda, David del Puerto, and Joan Magrané. The idea was to commission from each of them one piece, which would be inspired by one of the romantic pieces I chose. The result is a dialogue between different centuries, and I think it’s something that can be interesting to the public. Of course, everyone wants to listen to Schumann, but we also have to offer something different and new.

What is the reason for the album title The Butterfly Effect?

The piece that opens the album is Papillons which means butterflies in French. Jesús Rueda wrote his fifth piano sonata inspired by this Schumann piece and called it The Butterfly Effect. The album follows this idea of the butterfly effect theory in a musical way: works composed two hundred years ago influence the music that is composed nowadays.

And what kind of response have you gotten from your experiment with this album?

When I’ve played this music in concert, what I’ve found interesting and encouraging is that the audience likes classical music, but they want to discover new music as well. It has happened a few times that people have come up after the concert and said to me, “I love the romantic pieces, but what a great surprise to listen to this new music.” As a performer, I think it’s essential to have this connection with the new works and offer them to the general public and not just to the tiny circle of contemporary music lovers. I think new music should be for everyone.

We have observed that the album The Butterfly Effect by Noelia Rodiles was very well reviewed in quite a few publications and that it was even nominated for a Latin Grammy.

That was a very funny and happy surprise because we had no idea about this, actually. The label sent the CD, so we weren’t really aware of it, and then we suddenly got the news that we got this nomination. It was a nomination for one of the new pieces composed by Joan Magrané. The nominated piece is the one that closes the album, and it is called Dues peces per a piano. It was in the category for “Best Classical Contemporary Piece.” It’s a recognition that usually gives visibility to artists that are not from the classical world, so it’s great for us to be part of these prizes as classical musicians. This was a fantastic opportunity for us because classical music and the intimate piano piece got a little space in this big musical world. I have to say, we didn’t get the prize, but we were delighted with the nomination. It’s a reason to keep doing this — to keep collaborating with composers. I think it’s essential, and it’s already interesting on both sides for composers and performers to be working together.

With this professional ethos, we see that you don’t only commission pieces but are also interested in rediscovering forgotten repertoire.

Yes, for example, just now, in January 2021, I performed at the Juan March Foundation. This foundation organizes concerts with exciting themes that are often linked to exhibitions and conferences. They also have a group of musicologists who they work with on the programs. In this case, we agreed to have a performance of a totally forgotten piece by the Spanish romantic composer Martín Sánchez Allú (1823 – 1858). It’s excellent music, and we put it in dialogue with the well-known repertoire by Mozart and Mendelssohn. From one side, there is the aspect of how Mozart influenced this composer, as well as giving a 19th-century salon music flavor with the music by Mendelssohn, which is clearly another inspiration.

On March 19th, I will be having a concert in Soria, Spain, which will be an homage to Spanish poet Gerardo Diego, who ran a concerts and lectures series there precisely 100 years ago. I’ll play a recital with the pieces that were performed at that concert.

Later in the spring, I will play an extraordinary piece with the Asturias Symphony Orchestra that I kind of recovered last year. The music was written by Spanish composer Julián Orbón (1925 – 1991), who at a very young age immigrated to Cuba, then Mexico, and finally to the United States, where he died in Miami. It is a work for piano and orchestra called Partita No. 4. It is a fantastic piece that was kind of lost and only played at its premiere with the Dallas Symphony in 1986. I found the scores at the Indiana University Library, and last season I played it in Mexico and Spain for its premiers in these countries. It’s very nice to play it with the Asturias Orchestra since it is the orchestra of both his birthplace and mine. I think he was one of the greatest composers we’ve had in Spain, but it is a shame that people don’t know about him. He’s a popular figure in Mexico but not in Spain. I think we should get to know this fantastic musician because he has such great music.

We will be looking forward to your next releases. Are there any projects you can already talk about?

My next album will be released in the coming months with cellist Fernando Arias. We also recorded it for the label Eudora last summer. It will feature works by Dohnányi and Janáček. It will be extraordinary and very personal. We also recorded the Shostakovich Sonata, which is the most well-known piece of the album. This way, we will keep the line of including pieces that everyone knows with pieces that are different or not as often performed. We have a duty as musicians to give voice to this beautiful music.

From Piano Magazine, we encourage all our readers to listen to Noelia Rodiles’ new album, The Butterfly Effect. In it, you will find not only great playing but also an exciting and well-chosen repertoire.

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