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Enrique GRANADOS (1867-1916)
Orchestral Works - Volume 2
Goyescas: Intermezzo (1915) [5:35]
Danza de los ojos verdes (Dance of the green eyes) (1916) [3:48]
Danza gitana (Gypsy Dance) (1915) [3:21]
La nit del mort (Night of the dead man) (1897) [10:50]
Dante – Symphonic Poem (1908) [33:23]
Gemma Coma-Alabert (mezzo); Jesús Álvarez Carrión (tenor)
Lieder Cŕmera/Xavier Pastrana
Orquestra Simfňnica de Barcelona i Nacional de Catalunya/Pablo González
rec. Auditori Hall, Barcelona, Spain, 9-12 July 2013 (Intermezzo; Dance of the Green Eyes), 16-19 September 2013 (Gypsy Dance), 6-9 May 2014
NAXOS 8.573264 [56:57]

Having the complete Granados piano music under its eaves alongside one disc of chamber works Naxos now continues to tap into the Spanish composer's orchestral music.

This middlingly well-filled disc is the successor to the one reviewed here by John France. The performances are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed; nothing routine here although the longer pieces are not intrinsically spectacular.

The well known Intermezzo from the opera Goyescas is verismo in its intensity though it shades down into a cooling meditative frame of mind. The two Dances inhabit the same atmosphere as those of Manuel de Falla in El Amor Brujo: very Iberian, brooding, surreptitious. La nit del mort is positively Delian in its first half but soon develops a supernatural operatic character which, after some anthem-like moments, becomes smoothly calm again. The tenor and full choir brood, muse and storm with the best.

The first part of the Dante tone poem picks up in a dreamy phantasm where La nit del mort leaves off. After some unconvincingly determined moments (4:45) this part (Dante e Virgilio) ends in drowsy yearning with a tendency to noodle along. Part II is Paolo e Francesca which plays for about 20 minutes. This takes the form of a slowly unfolding concert aria - here delightfully sung with minimal vibrato - set amid a generously proportioned Wagnerian orchestral movement. There is a shade more jaggedness and drama in the writing but with a predominance of subdued lyricism - a sense of singing in the shadow of black clouds. The writing recalls Franck's Psyche in that respect but the colours are lower key.

Dante has been recorded before. It was among the relatively few late-romantic era pieces selected by the Louisville Orchestra and Jorge Mester in LP days; 1962 in fact (LS713). In 2001 it was issued by ASV (as yet not licensed by Presto) in a slightly differently coupled all-Granados collection conducted by Adrian Leaper (review).

The liner-note is by Justo Romero and is in Spanish with English translation. The sung words are printed in the booklet in the original language and in English.

A fascinating opportunity to encounter a composer better known for his music for solo piano.

Rob Barnett



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