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Thursday, February 23, 2017

Alicia de Larrocha - Spanish Encores


Composers: Mateo Albéniz; Isaac Albéniz; Antonio Soler; Enrique Granados; Joaquín Turina; Xavier Montsalvatge
  1. Mateo Albéniz - Sonata in D major
  2. Isaac Albéniz - Recuerdos de Viaje, Op. 71: 6. Rumores de la Caleta - Malagueña
  3. Isaac Albéniz - Pavana-Capricho, Op. 12
  4. Isaac Albéniz - Recuerdos de Viaje, Op. 71: 5. Puerta da Tierra - Bolero
  5. Isaac Albéniz - España, Op. 165: 3. Malagueña
  6. Isaac Albéniz - España, Op. 165: 2. Tango
  7. Isaac Albéniz - Suite española, Op. 47: 3. Sevilla (Sevillanas)
  8. Antonio Soler - Sonata in G minor
  9. Antonio Soler - Sonata in D major
  10. Enrique Granados - 12 danzas españolas, Op. 37: 7. Valenciana
  11. Enrique Granados - 12 danzas españolas, Op. 37: 5. Andaluza
  12. Joaquín Turina - Danzas Gitanas, Set 1, Op. 55: 5. Sacro-Monte
  13. Joaquín Turina - Danzas Andaluzas, Op. 8: 3. Zapateado
  14. Xavier Montsalvatge - Concerto Breve for piano & orchestra: 1. Energico
  15. Xavier Montsalvatge - Concerto Breve for piano & orchestra: 2. Dolce
  16. Xavier Montsalvatge - Concerto Breve for piano & orchestra: 3. Vivo

Alicia de Larrocha, piano
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (14-16)
Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, conductor

Date: 1975
Label: Decca




Oh where, oh where has that Surinach gone? Oh where, oh where can it be? Here we have one-and-a-half Alicia de Larrocha albums: the whole of her 1975 “Favorite Spanish Encores” recital, filled out with Xavier Montsalvage’s gorgeous, mercurial Concierto Breve. Good as it is to have this overlooked piece (and mesmerizing performance, to boot!) restored to the catalog, what will become of its one-time LP-mate, Carlos Surinach’s Piano Concerto? That was a peppery, exciting piece in its own right, and I urge Decca to reissue it soon. Montsalvage’s musical language might be described as Darius Milhaud’s bitonality without the density and clutter. The Concierto’s lively and lilting third movement begins with a big cadenza, whose spiky harmonies recall Duke Ellington’s burgundy-tinted chord changes; and one melodic fragment even suggests the verse to Frank Loesser’s “Luck Be A Lady”. In the slow movement, the English horn spins out a dark, plaintive theme that is guaranteed to linger in your memory long after the music stops. The spacious sonics capture the robust splendor of Frühbeck de Burgos’ super-alert Royal Philharmonic, as well as the depth of the pianist’s chiaroscuro sonority. Indeed, her bass notes seem to resonate from your loudspeakers to kingdom come.

Performance-wise, each of the 13 solo items represents a soulful jewel in a perfect tiara. Listen, for instance, to Larrocha’s impeccable left-hand repeated notes and tangy melodic stresses in the Mateo Albéniz sonata, or to the zesty ornaments and ebullient rhythms in the two Soler sonatas. She is completely at home with Turina’s more modern, cosmopolitan idiom, and rules the charming Issac Albéniz and Granados miniatures with iron fingers in mink gloves.

I’m especially struck by Larrocha’s treatment of Albéniz’s oft-played Tango, a work nearly as hackneyed as Liszt’s Third Liebestraum, Paderewski’s Minuet in G, or Beethoven’s Für Elise. Most pianists approach this piece by uniformly stressing the first beat of each measure, and letting the basic tango rhythm run on automatic pilot. Larrocha, in contrast, creates a genuine conversation between her precisely voiced left-hand accompanying figures and eloquently phrased right-hand lines. She heightens the melody’s points of tension and release with the subtlest rubato imaginable. By the time it’s over, I’m hooked, and feel compelled to play the track over again so that I might possibly catch details I missed the first time around. Celebrate this special pianist, and buy this disc. Then celebrate yourself for your good taste. [5/25/2001]

-- Jed Distler, ClassicsToday

More reviews:


Alicia de Larrocha (23 May 1923 – 25 September 2009) was a Spanish pianist and composer. She was considered one of the great piano legends of the 20th century. She is credited with bringing greater popularity to the compositions of Isaac Albéniz and Enrique Granados. De Larrocha made numerous recordings of the solo piano repertoire and in particular the works of composers of her native Spain. As she grew older she began to play a different style of music; more Mozart and Beethoven. De Larrocha won several individual awards throughout her lifetime.


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