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CD: MDT

Alicia de Larrocha: Complete EMI Recordings
see end of review for details
rec. Barcelona, 1962-92
EMI CLASSICS ICON 6294862 [8 CDs: 557:44]

Experience Classicsonline


It would hardly be possible to imagine a more headily performed collection of Spanish piano music than this eight disc box of Alicia de Larrocha’s EMI recordings made for Hispavox, over a thirty year span. Her earliest LPs, barring a couple of American releases, were made for this company in the 1950s and she remained loyal over the years. Her later Deccas (and RCAs) are probably the better known and were immeasurably better recorded, but there isn’t necessarily a correlation between performance excellence and recorded sound, no matter how splendid those later remakes may have been; and they were indeed excellent.
 
In matters of pinpoint accenting and in terms of the ultimate in phraseology, these early recordings are often just about superior. Many may not have caught her performances of Soler, since she was so closely associated with Granados and Albéniz and Turina, but these highly individual statements open up a continuum of Spanish keyboard excellence back to the eighteenth century. Vivid and strongly sculpted, there is an intensity about these sonata traversals that immediately both excites and detains one. I think it would be fair to point out a degree of romanticisation in some of the performances that may not appeal to more austere tastes, but I happen to find this buoyancy and generosity an attractive feature of the performances.
 
Her GranadosSeis Piezas Sobre Cantos Populares Españoles are splendidly nuanced, whether the guitar strum is evoked, as in the Preludio, or in the swaying control of her rhythm, for which you really need to sample Ecos de la Parranda or indeed the declamatory personalisation of Zambra, numbered fifth in the cycle. It would be pertinent to note at this juncture that the Hispavox recordings were hardly state of the art. In fact they were often downright poor, boxy and occasionally distorted. Nevertheless, despite these drawbacks, the essential core of the music emerges as vividly as one could reasonably hope. The dark, dank sonorities that permeate the funereal ethos of El amor y la muerte is just one highlight from her reading of Goyescas, which is housed in the second disc - these are card sleeves by the way, as per usual in the Icon series. It is the sense of naturalness of timbre and rhythm that is so compelling, as it assuredly is in Iberia’s El Puerto, a brilliantly realised reading by the way.
 
Her 1992 recording of Albeniz’s Suite Española is fully poetic, with a genuinely festive kick to Sevilla though even here, at this late date, the recording quality is clangy. There’s also very bad wow during Oriental in the Cantos De España cycle that was presumably impossible to remedy. Her Danzas Españolas are equally convincing and also somewhat sonically superior, the music oozing with personality, élan and sheer charm. The various voices of the third, in D, are richly but unselfconsciously bought out, from gruff bass to treble chatter, whilst in the Valses Poéticos lyricism and dynamism are held in scintillating accord. It’s a shame that the 1953 tapes of Escenas Románticas are in dullish sound, but we can still appreciate the refined quality of the playing and the fine dynamics she employs and, not least, the dancing voluptuousness of Granados’s inspiration.
 
One should on no account overlook her dazzling Turina, a small sample of which she recorded here. Exciting repertoire - not that Turina isn’t - comes via Montsalvatge’s Concerto, a 1992 Barcelona recording with its rich Debussian inheritance amorously projected. Collectors will know that she’d already recorded this work back in 1977 with de Burgos, but this EMI is with García Navarro directing. Finally, as if this isn’t riches enough, we have the concert at Hunter College, City University of New York, given by de Larrocha and Victoria de los Angeles in 1971. From Spanish baroque pieces to Granados and de Falla, this is a formidable and masterly recital with the three cycles - de Falla’s Siete canciones populares español and Granados’Nueve Tonadillas and Canciones amatorias - demonstrating how adept a collaborative pianist de Larrocha could be, and of course how marvellous was de los Angeles.
 
There are full recording details in the booklet which has two articles, one by de Larrocha’s daughter, Alicia Torra de Larrocha, and the other by Gregor Benko, and both are affectionate, insightful and well worth reading.
 
Jonathan Woolf  

Details
CD 1 [67:15]
Antonio SOLER (1729-1783)
Sonata No.24 in D minor (Nin, I No.1) [8:48]
Sonata No.84 in D (Nin, I No. 5) [3:18]
Sonata No.85 in F sharp minor (Nin, I No. 6) [5:09]
Sonata No. 89 in F (Nin, I-No.10) [3:20]
Sonata No. 90 in F sharp (Nin, I-No. 12) [5:19]
Sonata No. 21 in C sharp minor (Nin, I-No. 2) [5:33]
Sonata No. 87 in G minor (Nin, I-No. 8) [5:36]
Sonata No. 88 in D flat (Nin, I-No. 9) [4:20]
Enrique GRANADOS (1867-1916)
Seis Piezas Sobre Cantos Populares Españoles [25:19]
CD 2 [72:47]
Enrique GRANADOS
Goyescas
Los requiebros [8:22]; Coloquio en la reja [10:21; El fandango de Candil [5:30];
Quejas o la maja y el ruiseñor [6:23]; El amor y la muerte (Balada ) [12:22]; Epilogo: La serenada del espectro [7:34]
El pelele [4:13]
Isaac ALBÉNIZ (1860-1909)
Iberia book 1
Evocación [5:35]; El puerto [4:09]; El Corpus en Sevilla [8:06]
CD 3 [73:57]
Isaac ALBÉNIZ
Iberia book 2
Rondeña [7:10]; Almería [9:01]; Triana [5:16];
Iberia book 3
El Albaicín [6:45]; El polo [6:44]; Lavapiés [6:18]
Iberia book 4
Málaga [4:30]; Jérez [8:41]; Eritaña [5:25]
Navarra - completed by Déodat de Séverac [5:28]
Azulejos [8:30]
CD 4 [74:58]
Suite Española
Granada [4:51]; Cataluña [2:29]; Sevilla [4:35]; Cádiz [4:51]; Aragón [4:03]
Capricho: Pavana [3:29]
Tango [2:46]
Recuerdos de viaje Op.71 - Rumores De La Caleta [3:45]
Recuerdos de viaje Op.71 - Puerta De Tierra [3:26]
Cantos De España
Preludio (Asturias) [6:20]; Cantos De España- Oriental [3:27]; Cantos de España- Bajo La Palmera (Cuba) [4:08]; Cantos De España- Córdoba [6:00]; Cantos De España- Seguidillas (Castilla) [2:48]
Zaragoza [3:45]
Malagueña [3:48]
Mallorca (Barcarola) [6:23]
Zambra Granadina [3:19]
CD 5 [76:19]
Enrique GRANADOS
Danzas Españolas
Nº 1 in G [2:52]; Nº 2 in C minor (Oriental) [4:49]; Nº 3 in D [3:53]; Nº 4 in C (Villanesca) [5:28]; Nº 5 in E minor (Andaluza) [4:10]; Nº 6 in D (Aragonesa) [3:38]; Nº 7 in G (Valenciana) [4:39]; Nº 8 in C [3;17]; Nº 9 in B flat [4:43]; Nº 10 in G [4:04]; Nº 11 in G minor [5:23]; Nº 12 in A minor [5:22]
Danza Lenta [3:45]
Allegro De Concierto [7:42]
Valses Poéticos
Introducción Nº 1 "Melódi [2:36]; Nº 2 "Tempo De Vals Noble” [1:13]; Nº 3 "Tempo De Vals Lento [1:52]; Nº 4 "Allegro Humorístico” - Nº 5 Allegretto (elegante) [1:49];
Nº 6 "Quasi Ad Libitum (Sentimental) [1:21]; Nº 7 "Vivo" [0:43]; Coda (Presto - Tempo Del Primer vals) [2:07]
CD 6 [76:33]
Enrique GRANADOS
Escenas Románticas
I "Mazurca" [3:03]; II "Recitativo - Berceuse [4:12]; III *** (El Poeta Y El Ruiseñonor) [4:32]; IV"Allegretto (Pequeña Danza) [0:54]; V "Epílogo (Allegro Appasionato-andantino spianato) [8:49]
Manuel de FALLA (1876-1946)
Piezas Española
Aragonesa [3:08]; Cubana [3:50]; Montañesa [4:08]; Andaluza [4:13]
La Vida Breve - Danza Nº 2 [4:17]
El Sombrero De Tres Pico - Danza De Los Vecinos [3:12]
El Sombrero De Tres Pico - Danza De La Molinera [3:52]
El Amor Brujo - Danza Del Terror [2:14]
Fantasía Bética [11:33]
Isaac ALBÉNIZ
La Vega [13:39]
CD 7 [67:41]
Joaquín TURINA (1882-1949)
Sanlúcar De Barrameda
I "En La Torre del Castillo [6:23]; II "Siluetas De La Calzada” [3:17]; III " La Playa - IV “Los pescadares en Bajo de Guia” [11:30]
Danzas Fantásticas
I "Exaltación" [4:42]; II"Ensueño" [6:07]; III "Orgía" [4:41]
Danzas Andaluzas - "Zapateado" [4:05]
Danzas Gitanas - "Sacromonte" [1:55]
Xavier MONTSALVATGE (1912-2002)
Concierto Breve Para Piano Y Orquesta [24:16] ¹
CD 8 [48:14]
Concert at Hunter College with Victoria de los Angeles
Antonio LITERES (1673-1747)
Confiado jilguerillo (arr. Tarragó): from 'Acis y Galatea [3:29]
Blas de LASERNA (1751-1816)
El Tripili arr Roma [1:47]
Enrique GRANADOS
Nueve tonadillas
La maja de Goya [3:22]; Amor y odio [2:04]; El majo tÍmido [0:55]; El mirar de la maja [2:33]; Callajeo [1:20]; El tra-la-la y el punteado [1:05]; Las currutacas modestas [1:13]; El majo olvidado [2:52]; El majo discreto [1:31]
Canciones amatorias
Llorad, corazón [2:00]; Iban al pinar [1:51]; No lloréis, ojuelos [1:06] Mañanica era [2:26]; Mira que soy niña [2:34]; Gracia mía [2:36]
Manuel de FALLA
Siete canciones populares español
El paño moruno [1:08]; Seguidilla murciana [1:10]; Asturiana [2:25]; Jota [2:38] Nana [1:29] Canción [0:58] Polo [1:51]
Gerónimo GIMÉNEZ (1854-1923)
La Tempranica - “La tarántula é un bicho mú malo” (Zapateado) [1:40]
Alicia de Larrocha (piano)
Victoria de los Angeles (soprano)
Orquestra Ciutat de Barcelona/García Navarro¹

 


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