The following season, my agents proposed that I form a duo with Rosa Sabater. I could hardly believe it, since I had admired Rosa ever since she went to Tenerife to perform, as a child of 16 or 17, and I was even younger.
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She was loved and admired very much by my parents (the violinist Agustín León Villaverde and the pianist Maruja Ara) and myself. Her performances of Scarlatti and Mozart were always remembered in my home.
Working with Rosa was truly a delight. We prepared two long programs with the sonatas “a Kreutzer “by Beethoven, Grieg in C minor, Franck, Brahms, Debussy, and of course Mozart, who as I said before, she performed with exquisite technique, elegance, grace and sensitivity. I remember on one occasion, in Bilbao, we had to give two consecutive concerts with two programs totally different, based on these great sonatas. It was truly a challenge, but we were successful! I will never forget what a good time we had rehearsing and later giving concerts. As a human being, she was also an unforgettable travelling companion.
Twenty years later at the International Courses in Granada, as professors, we performed Bela Bartok’s Contrasts with the unforgettable Carmelo Bernaola, for piano, violin and clarinet, as well as a work Carmelo had written for the same formation, (piano, violin and clarinet), Omenaldia Béli Bartoka. I also remember in 1983, on the anniversary of the death of Padre Soler, we played a quintet by that composer. I would like to tell an anecdote about this work. This quintet was written for a string quartet and harpsichord, and taking advantage of the participation in the courses in Granada of the excellent harpsichordist, Rafael Poyana, we wanted to perform it with him. However, Rafael, a perfectionist and purist if ever there was one, declined because in the score there was one low note which the harpsichord could not reach. We then decided to go ahead, without Poyana on the harpsichord, but under his musical direction. The truth is that those rehearsals with Rafael were authentic master classes. For Rosa, thanks to her great technique, and for the rest of us it was not difficult to perform with such lightness and clarity. Lord, what memories!