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Waldo GEUNS (b.1981)
Amor a primera vista [6:49]
Enrique GRANADOS (1867-1916)
Goyescas (1911) [52:47]
Waldo Geuns (piano)
rec. 2017, MIRY Concert Hall, Ghent

Given his autobiographical modesty – there are no details about him in this disc – I sought Waldo Geuns’ website which describes him as ‘Pianist, Musicologist, Philosopher’. Not only this, but he has formed a duo with a fellow practitioner, the violinist Hugh Desmond, to form the philosophical-musical Duo Doppio Stile. He is an active soloist, notably as a chamber musician and broadcaster on Dutch radio and television, who trained as a pianist in Brussels and Salzburg under Jan Michiels, Hans Leygraf, Christoph Lieske, Bernd Glemser and André De Groote. His studies continue under Wieslaw Szlachta.

This seems to be Geuns’ first recording and he has selected a work that has fascinated and moved him, Granados’ Goyescas. It has also inspired him to compose a piece of his own with which he prefaces the recital, Amor a primera vista. As Granados was inspired by Goya, so Geuns was inspired by a painting by the contemporary Dutch artist Dorus Brekelmans called Tango d’Amor. This has been reproduced in the booklet and shows a dancing couple – much as Granados’ couple danced the fandango in Goyescas. The male dancer, seen in profile – open necked white shirt, black trousers – bears a strange resemblance to Geuns, so far as one can tell, whilst the woman, also in white, has her thigh at the level of the man’s hip as their eyes lock together. There is something pleasingly demure about it all, despite the sexually suggestive nature of the tango; a tango from the Protestant North, not the Buenos Aires stews.

And indeed Geuns’ seven-minute piece is one of open-hearted, unpretentious romantic lyricism. In its fluency it has charm and in its directness it possesses honesty and straightforwardness. It offers a wholly affirmative entrée to the real business, which is Granados’ very different masterpiece of intensity, ambiguity, and loss. His tempi for the cycle are unexceptional; neither too lingering nor too motoric. Where he doesn’t impress quite so much is in the sheer pianistic detailing, the inner voicings, the idiomatic surge and release of the music-making. There are times when he seems too bogged down and static, despite the sensible tempi, as can be heard in Los requiebros, a feeling enhanced by the recording quality, which is both a little hard and recorded at just too high a level – you may have to tame the volume.

Given his interest in things terpsichorean, not least in the inspirational painting, I was surprised that El fandango de candil was so lacking in atmospheric richness and so cautious rhythmically. This is assuredly a rather timid dance, sedate and none-too-exciting. He is much more attuned to El amor y la muerte than to Quejas o La maja y el ruiseñor where levels of virtuoso flourish are apt to be lacking.

There’s no doubting Geuns’ admiration for the music but when Alicia de Larrocha, notably, has left behind her versions of it his recording will enjoy only a limited cachet.

Jonathan Woolf

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