Isaac ALBÉNIZ (1860-1909) Iberia Suite (orch. Arbós) (orig.1905-08) [30:01]
Piano Concerto No. 1 in A minor (1889) [24:25] Navarra (compl. de Séverac) (1909) [4:16] Catalonia – Suite Populaire* (1899) [5:23] Aldo Ciccolini
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Enrique Bátiz
Mexico City Philharmonic Orchestra/Enrique Bátiz
rec. St Barnabas, Woodside Park, London, 1984; * Sala Nezahualcoyotl,
Mexico City date unknown REGIS RRC1298
Iberia was originally conceived as a series of twelve piano
pieces each depicting a Spanish dance, festival or locality. They
make great technical demands on the pianist and in fact Albéniz
was the first of several pianists forced to simplify the writing.
The composer was beginning to show signs of Bright’s Disease at
the time and when he came to orchestrate the work he soon had
to ask his friend Enrique Arbós to continue the task. Surinach
and Stokowski also orchestrated sections and there have been many
transcriptions for guitar. This suite comprises six brightly coloured
orchestrations. The recorded sound on this Regis CD is very good
and Bátiz’s readings are vibrant, rhythmically strong and taut
yet elastic to make the dances sinuous and supple. The first movement,
‘Evocación’ (orch. 1910) is a nostalgic fandanguillo-jota navarra
dance in triple time; ‘Fęte-Dieu ŕ Séville’ (orch. 1925) depicts
a Corpus Christi Day procession in Seville complete with a saeta
lament. The 1906 ‘Triana’ (orch. 1917), with its imitations of
castanets and heeltaps, is named after the gypsy quarter of Seville.
‘El Puerto’ (orch. 1908) evokes a busy fishing port. ‘El albaicin’
another depiction of a gypsy quarter, this time in Granada, was
orchestrated in 1924 and is in flamenco style. Finally, ‘Navarra’,
the flamboyant last movement of this suite, was conceived as part
of the composer’s original piano composition. It was begun in
Albéniz’s final year but completed by Déodat de Séverac and orchestrated
Concerto No. 1 shows the influence of the composer’s cosmopolitan
travels and training. There is charm but it is not distinctive;
it shows the influence of Chopin, Schumann and Mendelssohn.
There is no obvious use of Spanish themes or dances - more’s
the pity, one might think. It begins portentously with a darkly
dramatic orchestral introduction lasting almost two minutes.
This opening movement develops along the lines of many Late-Romantic
concertos with dramatic, lyrically nostalgic and whimsical episodes.
Its melodies are attractive if not especially memorable. The
central movement is gentle and dream-like developing into exuberance.
The finale continues in this mood with dramatic contrasts. Aldo
Ciccolini makes the most of its material.
Cataloniahas a strong Spanish influence. It is dazzling, very
fast moving and hedonistic. It has been hailed as the most ‘brilliant
Spanish fantasy since Chabrier’s Espańa’.
The Albéniz Concerto
is nothing remarkable but the rest of the programme is colourful
and vibrant enough.
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