Enrique GRANADOS(1867-1916) Goyescas, o Los majos enamorados (1909-1911) [52:08]
No. 1 Los requiebros [8:42]
No. 2 Coloquio en la reja, duo de amor [11:18]
No. 3 El fandango de candil [6:13]
No. 4 Quejas, o La maja y el ruiseñor [6:23]
No. 1 El amor y la muerte, balada [12:01]
No. 2 Epílogo, serenata del espectro [7:31] El pelele 'Escena goyesca’ [4:24] Allegro de concierto [7:37]
Garrick Ohlsson (piano)
rec. June 2011, Henry Wood Hall, London, UK
HYPERION CDA67846 [64:09]
It’s been a while since I’ve heard a new disc from the American
pianist Garrick Ohlsson, but a quick Google reveals a Chopin
cycle for Arabesque in the 1990s – reissued as Hyperion CDS44351/66
– and, more recently, a EuroArts Blu-ray of the Chopin piano
concertos with Antoni Wit and the Warsaw Philharmonic. Given
that Ohlsson won the Chopin competition in 1970, it’s perhaps
not surprising that he’s spent so much time and energy recording
these works; that said, his rendition of Busoni’s sprawling
concerto for Telarc suggests he’s actually quite versatile.
In any event I was pleased to discover he’d recorded Goyescas,
although I did wonder if that preponderance of Polishness would
colour his readings of this Iberian classic.
Inspired by an exhibition of Goya’s work at the Prado in 1896
and composed between 1909 and 1911, ‘The Gallants in Love’ has
moments of breath-taking virtuosity, none of which hold any
terrors for the ever-capable Mr Ohlsson. The guitar-like pluck
and strum of Los requiebros (‘The flirtations’) is
beautifully managed, the whole played in a broad, flowing style
that can only be described as patrician. Ohlsson modulates to
a more easygoing mood in Coloquio en la reja, duo de amor
(‘Dialogue at the window, love duet’), the sound as warm and
weighty as one could wish for. That, coupled with playing of
such authority and poise, makes for a most compelling listen.
The rest of Book 1 is no less accomplished, the rhythms of ‘Fandango
by candle light’ crisp and clear, Quejas, o La maja y el
ruiseñor (‘Complaints, or the maja and the nightingale’)
a self-absorbed, circular little number that’s barely faded
before Book 2 storms in with El amor y la muerte, balada
(‘Love and death, ballad’). There’s much to enjoy here, Ohlsson
at his most inward and imperious; and yet, for all his attention
to detail there’s something missing. Alicia de Larrocha (Decca
and EMI) may not be as consummate a technician, but at least
she offers Iberian warmth and character, as opposed to Ohlsson’s
cooler, more detached manner.
Make no mistake, this is formidable playing – just listen to
the pin-sharp articulation and sophisticated touch of the Epilogue
– but the more I listened to these pieces the more I yearned
for variety. Is this perhaps a case of the great being the enemy
of the good? Perhaps. In any event the sheer glitter and go
of El pelele 'Escena goyesca’ (‘The straw man’)
will set your pulse racing. The disc rounds off with an infectious
account of Granados’s prize-winning Allegro de concierto,
Ohlsson at his magisterial – and rhythmic – best. Again, I can
only marvel at the dynamics and detail of this recording, one
of the finest I’ve heard from this most reliable team.
I so wanted to make this a Recording of the Month –
it’s technically outstanding – but Ohlsson is not as involved
or penetrating as others, Larrocha especially. The liner-notes
by Walter Aaron Clark, scholarly and interesting, are a model
of their kind.
Exemplary musicianship that’s long on technique but a little
short on temperament.
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