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Joaquín RODRIGO (1901 – 1999)

Complete piano works
Sara Marianovich (piano)
Recorded: Joaquín Rodrigo Auditorium, Las Rozas (Madrid), February 2001
SONY S2K 89828 [76:32 + 78.17]


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On one hand there was the brilliant Iberia of Albéniz, and on the other hand, the great French impressionist piano of Debussy and Ravel ... I have tried to avoid Albéniz’s piano style of accumulation by opposing it with one made by elimination". Thus Joaquín Rodrigo who went on citing the example of Scarlatti as an inspiring model for his piano music.

Rodrigo remained true to his ideals when writing for piano, which he did for more than sixty years. The earliest work that he acknowledges is his Suite para piano of 1923 whereas his last piano piece Preludio de añoranza was composed as late as 1987. The only work of his I can think of in which he side-stepped his ideals is the Concierto heroico for piano and orchestra which is in a quite different league. Otherwise, his many piano pieces are short, colourful, tuneful miniatures of great charm but rarely attempting gravitas and always deliberately eschewing any large-scale design. His largest piano work, Sonatas de Castilla con toccata a modo de pregón (1950/1), is more adequately described as a suite of five short single-movement sonatas alla Scarlatti with little attempt at musical unity through close thematic connections.

It would be idle to comment on every work recorded here at any length for such is the risk of repeating oneself. Some pieces, however, merit a few words. Rodrigo reworked some of his piano works and some of them may be better-known in the reworked version. An example of this is the beautifully nostalgic Zarabanda lejana (1926), originally written for guitar, transcribed for piano and later orchestrated for strings to become part of the much better-known Zarabanda lejana y villancico. Another short piece worth mentioning is Sonada de adiós (1935) written for the collective homage to Rodrigo’s teacher Paul Dukas, for which Messiaen contributed his Pièce pour le tombeau de Paul Dukas.

Old Spanish music often inspired Rodrigo. Thus Fantasia para un gentilhombre for guitar and orchestra based on works by Gaspar Sanz has its near-cousin here, Cinco piezas del Siglo XVI (1938) in which pieces by de Cabezón, de Milán and Mudarra are simply transcribed for piano, or Tres danzas de España (1941).

Children also inspired Rodrigo. Think of his beautiful orchestral work Cinco piezas infantiles (1924). Thus, the delightful El album de Cecilia, "six pieces for small hands", was written in 1948 for his daughter Cecilia whereas the much later Danza de la amapola (1972) is dedicated to his granddaughter.

Again, the bulk of Rodrigo’s piano music consists in short pieces of great charm never outstaying their welcome, and there is much to enjoy in this complete recording of his piano music.

Sara Marianovich has a long and close association with Rodrigo’s piano music so that her readings obviously have the composer’s nil obstat. In any case, she plays beautifully throughout and this release is a delight from first to last, and should appeal to those who keep asking : "Aranjuez, well, yes, but what else?" Here is part of the answer.


Hubert Culot

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