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Enrique GRANADOS (1867-1916)
Piano Music: Volume 9 – Scarlatti Piano Transcriptions
Piano Sonata No. 1 in G (arr. of Kk520) [5:22]
Piano Sonata No. 2 in G (arr. of Kk521) [3:35]
Piano Sonata No. 3 in G (arr. of Kk522) [4:33]
Piano Sonata No. 4 in F (arr. of Kk518) [3:24]
Piano Sonata No. 5 in F (arr. of Kk541) [6:50]
Piano Sonata No. 6 in F (arr. of Kk540) [5:02]
Piano Sonata No. 7 in G minor (arr. of Kk102) [4:37]
Piano Sonata No. 8 in G minor (arr. of Kk546) [5:22]
Piano Sonata No. 9 in B flat (arr. of Kk190) [3:07]
Piano Sonata No. 10 in A (arr. of keyboard sonata by Francisco Courcelle 1702-1778) [4:18]
Piano Sonata No. 11 in A minor (arr. of Kk110) [4:09]
Piano Sonata No. 12 in D (arr. of Kk534) [6:18]
Piano Sonata No. 13 in E (arr. of keyboard sonata by unknown composer) [2:46]
Piano Sonata No. 14 in D (arr. of Kk535) [3:56]
Piano Sonata No. 15 in D minor (arr. of Kk553) [5:27]
Piano Sonata No. 16 in F minor (arr. of Kk555) [2:48]
Piano Sonata No. 17 in F (arr. of Kk554) [4:37]
Piano Sonata No. 18 in G (arr. of Kk547) [3:46]
Piano Sonata No. 19 in A minor (arr. of Kk109) [6:48]
Piano Sonata No. 20 in A (arr. of Kk211) [4:51]
Piano Sonata No. 21 in D minor (arr. of Kk552) [3:46]
Piano Sonata No. 22 in A (arr. of Kk537) [5:15]
Piano Sonata No. 23 in B flat (arr. of Kk528) [3:48]
Piano Sonata No. 24 in C minor (arr. of Kk139) [7:37]
Piano Sonata No. 25 in C minor (arr. of Kk48) [5:29]
Piano Sonata No. 26 in A (arr. of Kk536) [5:01]
Douglas Riva (piano)
rec. Potton Hall, Suffolk, 2-5 August 2005 and 4 October 2006. DDD
NAXOS 8.557939-40 [59:22 + 63:08]

These discs are part of a Granados piano series by American pianist Douglas Riva which has so far passed me by completely. This is probably because Alicia de Larrocha’s recordings of his major works seem so definitive – but, generally, it has been well-received in these pages. Granados transcribed for the piano 26 keyboard sonatas which he attributed to Scarlatti and this is the first complete collection of them on disc. World première recordings are claimed on the back liner although it is not made clear to which works this applies. Certainly, at least three of them (Nos. 6, 9 and 18) have been recorded by Uta Weyand for Hänssler (98414). Two of the twenty-six (Nos. 10 and 13) are not now thought to be by Scarlatti – the others are identified above by their number in Kirkpatrick’s catalogue which was published in the 1950s.
It is not clear from the documentation when Granados made these transcriptions but they presumably date from same period as the work of Italian Alessandro Longo who published the first “complete” Scarlatti sonata edition in 1906. Longo too envisioned the works being performed on the piano and added markings of dynamics and phrasing. In his sample of roughly 5% of the oeuvre Granados sometimes went further and altered the harmonies. He also wrote out all the ornaments. The music is still recognisably Scarlatti’s at virtually all times but it is a romanticised view of the composer’s work. Scarlatti was Italian by birth but gradually adopted some characteristics of local music, particularly rhythms. What is surprising is that, in general, it doesn’t seem that Granados added much Spanish feeling. Although it would be wrong to regard Kirkpatrick’s catalogue as strictly chronological, there is little doubt that Granados preferentially chose later works to transcribe – two thirds of them have Kk numbers over 500 and the last three sonatas in the catalogue Kk553-555 are all included.
Douglas Riva’s approach to the works is a consistent one. He goes for clarity and feeling. Rubato is used sparingly and tempi generally seem slow by comparison with most performances on the harpsichord. It could be argued that this is a logical approach and, for all I know, Granados may have altered the tempo indications – these are a significant omission from the documentation. Even assuming they were unaltered, mere twenty-first century re-interpretation of what Scarlatti meant by [say] Allegretto by might justify the approach. But, that aside, some greater contrasts between the works would have been preferable, at least in terms of tempi. The recorded sound is very natural and Douglas Riva contributes fairly brief notes.
Kirkpatrick was a harpsichordist who championed authentic performances of these works and now, 50 years later, there is a choice of complete sets on the harpsichord but no series on the piano yet completed. Pianists such as Horowitz and Pletnev have given some of the better known works their personal treatment to great effect. Anyone who is wedded to their Scarlatti on the harpsichord is unlikely to be persuaded to change their spots by Granados and Riva. Harpsichord/piano agnostics like myself will find these discs to be of considerable interest but they are not more pleasurable to listen to than those made by various pianists who have tackled Scarlatti’s works and made their own interpretive decisions.
Patrick C Waller


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