Susana Gómez Vázquez : Ad Illam Review
by Illiam Sebitz
Susana Gómez Vázquez has been building her reputation as a concert pianist since her debut in 2006 at the National Auditorium of Music in Spain. Born in Alcalá de Henares (Madrid) in 1995, Gómez Vázquez graduated under the tutelage of Patsy Toh and Hamish Milne at the Royal Academy of Music with distinction and did a Master’s degree at the Conservatori Liceu in Barcelona with Josep Colom. She continued her postgraduate studies with Fabio Bidini at the Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln. She has earned numerous awards, first prizes in the Competition of Jeunesses Musicales of Spain, in the International Competition Ciutat de Carlet, in the Iris Dyer competition of the Royal Academy of Music, in the Freddy Morgan and Wigmore Hall competitions (soloist and chamber music), EMCY prize, as well as the Maud Hornsby Award and the Franz Reizenstein Prize at the Royal Academy of Music for her professional achievements. She was recently awarded first prize in the Colburn International virtual piano seminar 2020. She has received scholarships from AIE and other institutions. She has performed as a soloist with the RTVE Orchestra, the Simón Bolivar Symphony Orchestra, the Betica Chamber Orchestra, the Purcell School Symphony Orchestra, the ORQUAH, the UPM Symphony Orchestra and made recordings for Radio Nacional Clásica, RTVE, and BBC 3 radio. Ad Illam (For Her) is her debut album on Eudora Records. Ad Illam features pieces either dedicated to or written by women, and include pieces by Ravel, Chopin, Lili Boulanger, Nadia Boulanger, García Demestres, Piazzola, Susana Gómez Vázquez, and Ginastera. These musical jewels reflect the romantic woman, the woman as mother, as teacher and point of reference, the sensual woman, the liberated woman.
Gómez Vázquez brings out the beauty of Parisian composer Lili Boulanger’s Prelude in D flat. The composition was inspired by Ravel and was written when Boulanger was seventeen. She was the first woman to win the Prix de Rome. Gómez Vázquez has a lyrical and nurturing touch that remains constant throughout this performance. This consistent quality brings out the elegant lyricism and emotional directness of expression in Boulanger’s music.
Gómez Vázquez includes a premiere recording of her own composition titled Ella. The composition begins with a haunting melody and powerful chords. The theme is developed through clever orchestration and harmonic colors. Gómez Vázquez’s use of dynamics is also an essential part of the theme. The B section is an intense moment of harmony and technical wizardry. A stirring counterpoint section is effective and shows Gómez Vázquez independent left- and right-hand abilities. A dramatic pause marks the transition back to the original theme. Gómez Vázquez can be heard speaking “Ella soy yo” (I am she), which is the first line of a short poem recited at the recapitulation of the piano miniature. “She” is the woman portrayed throughout the album. Like the other works on the album, Ella gives voice to extremes of emotion we all feel but are often too afraid to show.
The performances by Gómez Vázquez on Ad Illam make a wholly positive impression. Gómez Vázquez performs each piece with expression and a passionate conviction that is palpable. The album’s theme is easy to follow, and the selections have an evolution of styles and moods. Gómez Vázquez sustained musical focus illuminates the music and yields a captivating listen full of textures in this beautifully balanced set of themed compositions. In sum, this is an outstanding release in all respects.
Label: Eudora Records
Release Date: October 9, 2021