Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger:

Enrique GRANADOS (1867-1916)
Piano Music Volume 4:
Apparitions: Romantic Waltzes; In the Cuban Style (before 1898); Stories of Youth; 'Honey from Alcarria': Jota (1894); Poetic Waltzes (c. 1893-94); Aragonese Rhapsody (1901); Scenes of Childhood - Miniatures; Apparition
Douglas Riva (piano)
rec. May 1999, St Martin's Church, East Woodhay, Suffolk
NAXOS 8.554629 [73.32]
  AmazonUK   AmazonUS

Early Granados here and much of it written before 1898, according to pianist Douglas Riva in his excellent notes. The music echoes Schumann - Stories of Youth could hardly be anything else - and Chopin. Chopijn is in evidence in terms of delicacy and poetic touch, turning to Spanish inflection and dance through the waltz form. 'The Beggar Woman' has a descending syncopated seven note theme capped by a fermata, full of pathos and sudden defiant but beautifully spirited stabs. Granados peeps through here in a piece of quiet but real distinction. 'The Ghost' is like many Spanish spirits, rather rumbustious and full of fandango tendencies. Schumann's miniaturesque language comes through more strongly in the Poetic Waltzes, particularly in the 'Slow Waltz' and 'Humorous' or 'Brilliant Waltz' - a glitch on the tracking has lost track 28 at exactly this point, so what follows is guesstimate.

All that said, the overriding influence is, quite clearly, Grieg. From Grieg to Granados, is 25 years, nautical miles and two weather-bound Nationalisms. Try the 'Butterfly Waltz'. Over a descending figure of Grieg's what should flutter through the Chopin Etude but filigreed early Bridge; a retiary old lace pattern of glissandi imitating the arrhythmic beat of stereotypical wings. Delightful. It sports a Schumannesque melodic cut that comes out most clearly in the beautiful 'Ideal Waltz'. It's to him and Grieg that Granados owed some of the melodic birthmarks, before the insistent Spanish dance forms moulded Granados's individual voice. This certainly emerges here in a handful of pieces, like 'Honey from Alcarria': Jota. In the Cuban Style is an up-beat and nearly characteristic piece, probably written before Spain lost Cuba in 1898.

Most stunning of all is the wonderful Aragonese Rhapsody, melodically Grieg but as good as some of the best of the Lyric Pieces. And with Granados's own rhythms becoming more and more insistent through the seven-minute piece. This is wrongly tracked as 34, but is in fact 33, incidentally.

Scenes of Childhood is not wholly Schumannesque. A chillied wisp of the Carmen habanera in 'Apologising'; and 'Crying Child' is a gently falling twin-set of tears, with a Moorish arabesque in the bass, which again is the real Granados.

Another voice is Fauré's, quiet but insistent, in the quietest pieces; and again almost pure in the berceuse rhythm of Apparition. It's one of the five pieces of genius that make this a mandatory acquisition to lovers of Granados, Spanish music and Romantic piano music. Douglas Riva, in this fourth volume, has less competition from Alicia de Larrocha here - other more famous pieces are available in Decca Doubles. But this disc is the one to recommend with full confidence even to those who have de Larrocha in the mature works. Riva is an excellent guide, with a fine touch that modulates to real delicacy in the children's pieces, and plenty of idiomatic élan elsewhere. His rhythms are a little like nascent Granados. That is, those of someone fully discovering a language de Larrocha - and to a lesser extent champions like Aldo Ciccolini - acquired almost from birth. Riva is, in fact ,on a par here with Ciccolini, which isn't a back-handed compliment. And Ciccolini hasn't, as far as I know, recorded this early repertoire. Close but truthful Naxos piano sound.

Simon Jenner

Return to Index

Reviews from previous months
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board.  Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.This is the only part of MusicWeb for which you will have to register.

You can purchase CDs, tickets and musician's accessories and Save around 22% with these retailers: