GRANADOS: Goyescas (complete) – Nicholas Zumbro, piano – Kritonos Records 885767063310, 72:24 (Distr. by Phoenix Classical) *****:
Enrique Granados (1867-1916) completed his homage to the great Spanish painter Francisco Goya (1746-1828) in 1911 and premiered the composition at a recital that year.
English music critic Ernest Newman wrote about Goyescas, “The music, for all the fervor of its passion, is of classical beauty and composure. The harmony is rich, but never experimental. The melodies have new curves, the rhythms new articulations.”
Along with Issac Albéniz’s Ibéria, Goyescas represent a definite high point in Spanish piano literature. Goyescas is full of drama, yet is balanced with wistful moods.
At the height of his compositional powers Granados wrote an opera titled Goyescas, as he incorporated and expanded music from the piano version into the new work which premiered at the Metropolitan Opera in January, 1916.
In March, 1916, a German U-boat sank the ship Granados and his wife were on in the English channel, returning to Spain. Both drowned, he trying to save his wife and she pulled down in the frigid waters by the gold bullion around her waist. He had demanded payment in gold bullion for the opera’s performances in the U.S. This information was provided by Nicholas Zumbro in the insert with the recording.
Born in Tennessee, Nicholas Zumbro provides a wonderfully evocative reading, touching deeply on the the very nerve fibers of Spain. He is a specially gifted keyboard artist who brings Granados’s compositions alive. He also includes several additional selections from either the opera or outside of the Goyescas collection of six pieces. He also includes two short sections from Manuel de Falla’s El Amor Brujo. Zumbro’s repertory is varied and unusual. He has received critical acclaim in Europe, the United States and the Far East, and has taught worldwide.
The sound of this recording of Zumbro playing a Bősendorfer Imperial grand piano, made in London in 1992, is magnificent. The piano sound is realistic with an ambience that never intrudes. Why it took so long to be released in this country is a mystery, but that sometimes occurs.
Highly recommended for lovers of Spanish music and wonderful piano performance.