> Granados Piano Music Vol 5 Naxos 8.555325 [JW]: Classical Reviews- January 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Enrique GRANADOS (1867-1916)
Piano Music - Volume 5
Azulejos – Isaac Albeniz, completed by Granados
Valse de Concert
A la pradera
Escenas poeticas
Fantasia – Cheherezada
Cancion arabe
Cancion morisca
Oriental – Theme with variations, Intermezzo, Finale
Douglas Riva (piano)
Recorded Potton Hall, Dunwich, Suffolk June 2000
NAXOS 8.555325 [62.28]


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Naxos’s traversal of Granados’s piano music has now reached Volume 5 and gives us three World Premiere recordings. It is a valuable undertaking but I’m not sure how much, if anything, is added to our knowledge and understanding of Granados’s compositional techniques and aspirations.

The first piece on the disc is by Albeniz and completed by Granados - 63 bars by the former and left uncompleted on his death in 1909, and 83 bars by Granados. Shavings from the bench. Many of the pieces are from the latter part of Granados’s composing life; the Valse de Concert was published in 1914 though probably written between 1909-1910. Douglas Riva, who seems to have received the imprimatur of the Granados family, as well as being a tireless advocate of his music, brings a real sense of brio to the Valse, albeit I do find his rubato somewhat calculated and impeding to the flux and flow of the music.

The Escenas Poeticas are stylistically intriguing and written at different times. They range from the densely argued to the prismically compelling. El angel de los claustros, the fifth of the cycle, describes an angel’s flight repeatedly interrupted by a chorale – and here I feel Riva is too slow and uninclined to vest the music with a fraction more subtlety. Riva, who has written the notes, cites the fourth of the cycle as Schumann-influenced but I would prefer to cite the finale, the Poet’s Dream (Suenos del poeta) that must be as explicitly Schumannesque a piece as Granados ever wrote.

The final pieces – three premieres – are in "Oriental" style – that is to say, in Granados’s case, countries in which Arabic is the spoken language. They fuse light entertainment with mild pedagogic intent and are of slight, though occasionally entertaining, value.

I found the recorded sound somewhat airless. Notes are good. A qualified welcome.

Jonathan Woolf

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