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Rodrigo Ruiz: Behold the Stars

Kerenza Peacock (violin), Laura van der Heijden (cello), Huw Watlkins (piano) (Signum Classics)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Rodrigo Ruiz
Violin Sonata; A Riveder le Stelle; Piano Trio
Kerenza Peacock (violin), Laura van der Heijden (cello), Huw Watkins (piano)
Signum Classics SIGCD664   58:25 mins

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On first hearing Rodrigo Ruiz, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d stumbled on a forgotten score from the 19th century. Unabashedly tonal, this is music firmly rooted in the vocabulary of Brahms and Beethoven. Yet the works featured here were composed in the last four years and Ruiz himself is a spritely 32 years old. Such steadfast devotion to the old masters in contemporary composition is certainly not to all tastes, but Ruiz’s music is mostly well-crafted and this disc is beautifully performed.

Ruiz’s Violin Sonata yields few surprises, bar a fiery third movement which presents itself as a dramatic finale, before the work then closes with an affecting Adagio (performed with particular grace and poignancy by Karenza Peacock and Huw Watkins). There follows A Riveder le Stelle for violin and piano, inspired by Canto XXXIV of Dante’s Inferno where Lucifer emerges from an icy mist. The duo conjures a suitably unsettling atmosphere here, even if the score at times lacks direction. The disc concludes with Ruiz’s Piano Trio in A major which owes much to Brahms in its florid textures and harmonic shifts.

Ruiz’s staunch adherence to older styles may seem disconcerting, but these excellent performances nonetheless make for an enjoyable listen.

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Kate Wakeling