ÆTERNUM is a tribute to music's infallible steadfastness against the mundane adversity of human existence. Brazilian-born pianist Eliane Rodrigues convinces with her forceful, furious interpretations of keyboard works by Johann Sebastian Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven – among them the latter's Fifth Symphony, grippingly arranged by Rodrigues herself.
Rodrigues, who currently teaches piano at the Antwerp Conservatoire, is well-known for her prolific output of recordings. ÆTERNUM stands out not only for its celebration of Beethoven and his respected predecessor J. S. Bach, but also for the pianist's ability to uncover the hidden layers of well-known repertoire pieces. The listener encounters a Beethoven of unparalleled vehemence, but also, hauntingly, sees the veil lifted from Bach's sublimity, usually hidden in plain sight. When it comes to the struggle of the limits of individual existence with its desire for the eternal, this is the clearest example one could imagine.
The secret star of the album, however, is Rodrigues' Brahmsian arrangement of Beethoven's Symphony No. 5. The pianistic interpretation of her own arrangement is strikingly Romantic, not Classical: there is no trace of the straight, light-fingered piano technique of the era, but instead a truly Late-Romantic force which is quite appropriate for the subject. Beethoven, who himself was known for his powerful playing style, might very well have approved. But Rodrigues goes even further and infuses her rendition with an abundance of late 19th-century rubato, driving the music to an awe-inspiring frenzy. It's a truly futuristic approach, and possibly how the composer might have imagined his works to be played, had he lived half a century later.
ÆTERNUM, Latin for "everlasting," pays appropriate tribute to this years' jubilarian Beethoven and his great proto-colleague J. S. Bach: the works on this album have stood the test of time, and it's not unlikely that Rodrigues' interpretation thereof will as well.