“I am on a new project. Because of time management issues in recent years due to having a child, I’ve become more project based. When I sit down to practice I have a very good idea of what it is I‘ll be working at. I’m good at managing my time so, for example, I’ll plan precisely what I need to do in each piece down to the bar line! Within a certain practice time.
If I’m learning something new it’s useful to record myself, and I always try to do a mock performance as well. If I’m playing Baroque repertoire, I may play to a harpsichordist and exchange opinions. I met up with John Henry before my Soler recording and enjoyed it tremendously. I’ll play to friends, I’ll play to my husband. He’s a very good pianist, I will always play to him before I record or play live – he’s very cheap! He’s usually my best critic, he doesn’t have to beat around the bush’s because he knows me well and knows what I am trying and what I can achieve.
Usually I play from memory but in some projects I choose to use the score. Recently I’ve been working with a percussionist I haven’t worked with for very long so I had some of the music on stage. I’m about to launch a project that I’ve been developing for a long time; juxtaposing Bach’s inventions with inventions by contemporary composers.
It’s very different to what I’ve been doing recently, focussing on new commissions of new music inspired by popular genres for my Boosey & Hawkes books and also for the corresponding CD’s. I needed to do something different for myself. Because I had limited practice time I wanted to have something where the artistic expressive side of myself was nurtured in a different way: I needed soul- food.
I hadn’t played Bach for a long time. Where I come from people revere Bach to such an extent that often they daren’t play it. They are in awe, you know – he is like God. So I had the idea of doing these inventions and then showing people what contemporary composers think of Inventions, think of the word “invention”. I’m including music that is not even an invention, there’s a prelude and also a fugue. So it’s a very abstract use of the term “invention” To invent is to think ‘anew’. It’s very interesting because the new inventions inform the old, and the old inventions inform the new. Some people think they don’t like Bach, but when they hear the new pieces, they find they actually understand Bach better. The new pieces allow them to think about the old pieces in a different way. This connects with my other recent work – where I’ve been showing how new , popular and early music relate and can come together and meet. It all boils down to relationships. As usual.” (Elena Riu)
Elena Riu was born in Caracas and lives in London. She is Piano Professor at Trinity Laban. Her new project “Invention” will be performed at Sutton House on November 18th at 3pm. www.shms.org.uk