Two CDs involving Enrique Granados.
GRANADOS: March of the Defeated (1899); Torrijos (1894); Suite on Galician Songs (1899) – Barcelona Sym. Orch. & Chorus/ Pablo Gonzalez – Naxos 8.573263, 54:47 (4/4/16) ****:
GRANADOS: Concerto in c “Patetico”; ALBENIZ: Concierto fantastico in a, Op. 78; Rapsodia espanola – Melani Mestre, p./ BBC Scottish Sym. Orch./ Martyn Brabbins – Hyperion CDA67918, 76:58 (4/4/16) (Distr. by HM/PIAS) ****:
All of these works are getting their first recording (partly in observance of the centenary of his death), and although Granados is known mainly for his solo piano music, these two CDs show off some of his orchestral music. The painful march of the defeated is not identified as to what battle this is from, and the composer’s talent for lyrical writing is shown in his incidental music for the play Torrijos. The suite on folk songs uses Galician melodies and dance rhythms in an effort to reflect the landscapes of this region.
Barcelona is a wonderful city, and its symphony orchestra is excellent in these world premiere recordings. The Cor Madrigal choir is heard only in three of the five sections of the Torrijos incidental music. Sonics are fine for the standard CD format.
Granados’ Piano Concerto in c has been reconstructed and adapted for piano and orchestra by Melani Mestre, the soloist on this recording. It existed only as a two-piano sketch of one movement originally, and was dedicated to St.-Saens. Granados was a brilliant pianist as well as composer. There was ample material there for a single movement work (35 min.) for piano and orchestra of considerable interest, although the composer probably had in mind a three-movement work in the end. It was written around 1910, and opens with a long piano solo.
Albeniz liked to invent tall stories about himself, and he described many childhood adventures. Again, he wanted to be a great piano virtuoso and asked Franz Liszt for lessons. He did more than any other composer in encouraging an exploration of Spanish folk music as a way of developing a distinct national style. He had a way of capturing the sounds and sights of Spain, mostly for solo piano. His Concierto fantastico is his only piano concerto. Its clearest influences are from Spanish folk music but from the piano concertos of Schumann and Chopin.
The Rapsodia espanola, as expected, has a more explicitly Spanish inspiration. It was written about the same time as the concerto, and begins with haunting theme in octaves. Several dances follow, and there is a strong flamenco form with one of them. Albeniz asked a friend to help him with both works, since we was not totally comfortable writing away from the piano for orchestra. This is the first recording of this version of the Rapsodia. And it is Volume 65 of Hyperion’s piano concerto series, would you believe?