Santiago Rodriguez, Piano
Santiago Rodriguez has been called “a phenomenal pianist”(The New York Times) and “among the finest pianists in the world” (The Baltimore Sun).
He has performed internationally with leading orchestras, including the London Symphony, the Dresden Staatskapelle, the Weimar Philharmonic, the Yomiuri-Nippon Symphony Orchestra of Japan, the Tampere Philharmonic of Finland,
the Berliner Symphoniker, the Philadelphia, Chicago, St. Louis, Baltimore, Seattle, Indianapolis, American Composers’, and Houston Symphony Orchestras, the National Symphony Orchestra of Washington,
D.C., and the American Symphony Orchestra at Avery Fisher Hall in New York. Mr. Rodriguez has appeared in recital at the Schauspielhaus in Berlin, Leipzig’s Gewandhaus, Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, Montreal’s Theatre Maisonneuve, the Santander Festival in Spain, Alice Tully Hall in New York, The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., the Herbst Theater in San Francisco, the Ambassador Auditorium in Pasadena, and at the prestigious Ravenna Festival in Italy where the critics proclaimed that “he conquered the audience.”
Mr. Rodriguez made his Carnegie Hall debut under the baton of Dennis Russell Davis, and also traveled to Finland for a series of concerts with Eri Klas, conducting. In recent seasons, Santiago Rodriguez has returned for engagements in Korea and Taiwan.
As a chamber musician, Mr. Rodriguez has enjoyed collaborations with illustrious ensembles such as the Guarneri String Quartet and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. He also toured extensively as member of a piano trio with Ruggiero Ricci and Nathaniel Rosen; and performed with such distinguished musicians as Walter Trampler, Ransom Wilson, Gervaise de Peyer, Aurora Nátola-Ginastera, and Robert McDuffie. A recent highlight was fulfilling his life-long wish to collaborate in a performance of Schubert’s Winterreise; a wish realized in partnership with the renowned Swiss artist, Françoise Loup. In a highly laudatory review of one of two sold-out engagements at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at Maryland, Tim Page, writing in the Washington Post, called the evening “A ‘Winterreise,’ Exquisitely Chilled.” He summarized Mr. Rodriguez’ contributions as “ [he] was a splendid partner, whether roaring through heroic passages or emphasizing Schubert's harmonic daring with little pointillist stabs.” In a recent radio interview, Santiago Rodriguez described the song cycles of both Schubert and Schumann as “…the most-perfect and sublime of human creations, and the ultimate musical and technical challenges for any performer.”
Santiago Rodriguez’ vast repertoire of concertos and recital programs reflect his great versatility and musical interests. Commanding a repertoire of over sixty-five (65) concertos, he has performed concertos of Bach, Bartók, Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Grieg, Gershwin, Liszt, Schumann, Franck, Mendelssohn, Prokofiev, and Rachmaninov over his 35-year performing career. His all-encompassing list also includes the more unusual works of Khachaturian, Strauss, Saint-Saëns, MacDowell, Falla, Pónce, Surinach, Albéniz, Castelnuovo-Tedesco, and Previn. His recital list, displaying a stunning variety of solo works, ranges from the music of J.S. Bach, Mozart, Brahms, Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt, and Debussy, to Scriabin, Prokofiev, Albéniz, Granados, Ginastera, Chávez, and Lecuona.
One of today’s foremost interpreters of the music of Sergei Rachmaninov, Santiago Rodriguez has performed all of the composer’s major piano works in concert. He is currently recording The Rachmaninov Edition, which, when completed, will encompass the entire catalog of Rachmaninov’s original solo piano compositions. The three volumes which have been released have received international acclaim: In reviewing Volumes 1 and 2, Bryce Morrison of Gramophone stated that “Santiago Rodriguez, the Cuban-American virtuoso, is born for Rachmaninov, and I doubt whether any of the works on these two discs have often been played with such a spellbinding mix of high-born virtuosity and poetic glamour.” Volume 2 was awarded the Washington Area Music Award for best classical recording of 1995, and Volume 3 was selected by Classical Pulse as one of the best recordings of 1995.
Santiago Rodriguez’ other recordings of repertoire from Bach to Ginastera, all on Élan Recordings, have been acclaimed for their “blazing conviction, tremendous technical strength, unswerving concentration and galvanic excitement...” (American Record Guide). National Public Radio’s Guide to Building a Classical CD Collection recommends three of Mr. Rodriguez’ recordings as “the best available” performances, and his recording of the Rachmaninov and Prokofiev Third Concertos has been internationally acclaimed as one of the best in recorded history; the Chicago Tribune spoke of “the enormous sweep and impeccable control,” and American Record Guide concluded that “this Rachmaninov Third goes immediately to the top of the list.” Mr. Rodriguez has recorded numerous world premieres, including Piano Concerto No. 1 by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco; the Concertino for piano, strings, and cymbals of Carlos Surinach; Leonard Bernstein’s Touches; piano concertos from the movies Nightsong and Phantom of the Opera, both of which are featured on his release, Piano in Hollywood, and the Piano Sonata No. 2 of Alberto Ginastera, which was premiered by Mr. Rodriguez at Alice Tully Hall in New York. Santiago Rodriguez’ latest project took him to Berlin where he recorded Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2 and Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Berliner Symphoniker and Stephen Gunzenhauser, conducting. This is his 14th recording for the company.
Santiago Rodriguez was born in Cárdenas, Cuba and began his piano studies at age four. After Castro seized power in Cuba, his parents sent Mr. Rodriguez and his younger brother to America under the care of the Catholic Charities. He spent the next six years in an orphanage in New Orleans. Fortunately, his mother had concealed money along with a note begging the nuns to continue his musical education. Two years after his arrival, he made his concert debut at age ten performing Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 27 with the New Orleans Philharmonic. His international career was launched in 1981 when he won the Silver Medal at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition; he also received a special prize for the best performance of Leonard Bernstein’s Touches, a work commissioned for the competition. Mr. Rodriguez’ unique life and artistry were profiled on CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Kurault in 1993. He has also been featured numerous times on the ABC, NBC, PBS, CNN, BBC, and CBC television networks.
Santiago Rodriguez also enjoys a distinguished reputation as a teacher and master-clinician. Since 1980, he was a member of the Piano Division at the University of Maryland where he held the rank of Professor and Artist-in-residence. Beginning in September, 2009, he accepted the position of Professor and Artist-in-residence at the Frost School of Music, University of Miami.
Santiago Rodriguez holds a masters degree from the Juilliard School, where he studied on full scholarship as a pupil of Adele Marcus, and he completed his undergraduate studies magna cum laude with William Race at the University of Texas.