RAFAEL PUYANA FONDLY REMEMBERED
On 1 March, precisely six months ago, Rafael Puyana sadly left us. To mark the half year mark since 1 March, 2013, SanCtuS started today a rememberance period dedicated to Rafael Puyana, to celebrate his memory and the magnificent art he bequeathed us, through which he remains present.
SanCtuS Recordings had the priviledge of a longstanding collaboration with Rafael Puyana, who exclusively made his last recordings with our label. SanCtuS remains committed to keep alive and make available his great art and is pleased to announce the imminent release of his unpublished recordings of Johann Sebastian Bach´s Partitas, magnificently performed on the unique three-manual harpsichord of 1740 by Hieronymus Albrecht Hass.
RAFAEL PUYANA (14 October 1931- 1 March, 2013)
Rafael Antonio Lazaro Puyana Michelsen was born in Bogotá, Colombia. At age sixteen he entered the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston; later he studied at the Hartt School of Music in Hartford, Connecticut. His passion for early music and harpsichord led him to the great harpsichordist Wanda Landowska, with whom he studied during the last seven years of her life. During summer months he traveled to France to enroll in the harmony and composition courses of Nadia Boulanger, in Fontainebleau and Paris.
Puyana´s career as a harpsichordist began in 1957 with recitals at the Hotchkiss School, the Jordan Hall in Boston, and Town Hall, in New York City. He was immediately ranked as one of the most striking musical personalities of his generation. He gave numerous performances across several continents, and played with Andrès Segovia, Leopold Stokowski, Yehudi Menuhin, David Oistrakh, John Williams, Maxence Larrieu and James Galway, to name only a few of the celebrated musicians with whom he collaborated. He was an inspiring teacher who gave masterclasses for many years at Summer Schools, in Santiago de Compostela, Prades, and Dartington. Trevor Pinnock, Christopher Hogwood and Genoveva Galvez were among students who attended these classes. He was also in charge of harpsichord instruction at the Curso Manuel de Falla, and at the International Festival of Granada in Spain. He founded and was president of the International Harpsichord Forum of the Festival Estival de Paris, and was also a jury member of numerous harpsichord competitions.
Rafael Puyana´s repertoire was not limited to baroque music, in which he established himself as a recognized authority. It extended to the repertoire of the eighteenth-century fortepiano and to important compositions for the harpsichord in the twentieth century, including Master Peter´s Puppet Show, the Concerto by Manuel de Falla as well as the Concert Champêtre by Francis Poulenc. His refined yet strong and vital playing inspired several contemporary composers to write works for him, amongst them Frederico Mompou, Alain Louvier, Julian Orbón and Xavier Montsalvatge.
King Juan Carlos of Spain invested Puyana with the highest official decoration of that nation: the Orden de Isabel la Católica, in recognition of the artist´s merits in communicating his knowledge and appreciation of early and contemporary Spanish keyboard music. He leaves behind an important discography, several recordings of which are deemed definitive enough that no serious researcher of major interpreters of the harpsichord repertoire can afford to ignore.
Hailed by major critics as "masterful" or "harpsichord genius," Puyana will be remembered by all those who recognize the greatness of his art for its exceptional beauty, intelligence, refinement, excitement, force and vitality of his playing and, most importantly, his musical integrity. Those who had the privilege of knowing and collaborating with him will remember further qualities: the sharpness and brilliance of his unique mind, his incredibly vast knowledge and culture, his outstanding sensitivity and creativity, his aesthetic refinement, his sense of perfection, his impeccable memory, his force and intensity, his charm, his non-compromising nature and courage to stand by his beliefs, his loyalty, warmth, refined humor and generosity.
The death of Rafael Puyana left those who admired and loved him as orphans. Whilst Colombia lost one of its foremost internationally-recognized cultural ambassadors, the world suffered an irreplaceable loss of one of the last artists from a golden era filled with larger-than-life musical personalities, himself a direct link to the Landowska legacy as well as a player who possessed a striking individuality. His spirit and art will live on through the recorded legacy he has left behind, and in the hearts of those who were fortunate to meet and admire him.
Betina Maag Santos © SanCtuS Recordings