wrote some of the finest piano music of the later 19th
and earlier 20th centuries. It rightly retains its
place at the centre of the piano literature. But what attracts
about this remastered RCA issue is
not just the richness of the music; for Alicia de Larrocha has a special empathy with her native Spanish music.
Her performances have attained a truly legendary status. Not
that she is so much of a specialist, however. There have, for
example. been few Mozart players of the last quarter-century
who can match her insights and sensitivity.
collection was recorded in New York between 1989 and 1994, and
she is on top form throughout. That does not simply mean piano
fireworks; on the contrary, the quieter, more sensitive aspects
of Granados’s piano collections are
among the satisfying moments to be found here. For instance,
that beautifully evocative tone painting, Quejas,
o la maya y el ruiseñor
is haunting and atmospheric. Here also the recording is at its
most effective. While there is fullness of tone and a sympathetic
acoustic, the sound itself can be just a little tubby in the
more sonorous climaxes.
de Larrocha has recorded Goyescas
before, for both EMI (1963, originally made for the Spanish
Hispavox label) and Decca (1977),
and the latter recording and performance is as good as any.
It is no surprise that she has become less impulsive in her
approach to dynamics, phrasing and tempi as the years have passed.
But great music surpasses the limitations of any one approach
to performance, and Granados passes that test. Whatever the
response of an individual player on a particular occasion, his
music, of necessity, requires a blend of fiery technique, volatile
changes of rhythm, clear articulation, atmospheric tone painting
and keyboard virtuosity. All these attributes are second nature
to Alicia de Larrocha.
originally issued the complete set of twelve Danzas
españolas, coupled with the Valses
poèticos. Now six of the set complete
this programme, making for a total of nearly eighty minutes of
music. The point about collections of dance-based pieces is
that a carefully chosen selection can generally be as satisfying
as the complete series; and so it proves here. Again there is
an earlier Decca recording that sets the standard; but this
newer version is well worth our attention. For each item has
its own special characteristics, with Spanish flavour
and temperament the prime features. Again the recording is splendidly