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Monday, February 20, 2017

Enrique Granados - Orchestral Works Vol. 2 (Pablo González)


Composer: Enrique Granados
  1. Goyescas: Intermezzo
  2. Danza de los ojos verdes (Dance of the green eyes)
  3. Danza gitana (Gypsy Dance)
  4. La nit del mort (Night of the dead man)
  5. Dante - Symphonic Poem: I. Dante e Virgilio
  6. Dante - Symphonic Poem: II. Paolo e Francesca

Gemma Coma-Alabert, mezzo-soprano (6)
Jesús Álvarez Carrión, tenor (4)
Lieder Càmera (4)
Barcelona Symphony Orchestra
Pablo González, conductor

Date: 2016
Label: Naxos



Naxos’s centenary survey of Granados’s orchestral music continues with a second disc from the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra under Pablo González, and like the first (5/16) it contains several premiere recordings – three, in fact. The most substantial is a symphonic poem dating from 1897, La nit del mort, to which Granados gave the forbidding subtitle ‘poem of desolation’. Well, it sounds like a rather enjoyable desolation: a subtle, Impressionistic world straight out of César Franck or early Debussy. If we don’t hear this 10 minute piece more often it’s probably because six minutes in, after a tenor solo from Death himself (with eerie pizzicato and a snaking bass clarinet), it launches into a foursquare chorus on the Spanish equivalent of ‘Dulce et decorum’.

But that first section shows González and his orchestra at their best, with grainy strings, piquant soft-edged woodwinds and a natural, musicianly way of shaping a phrase. Those qualities are all in evidence in two short gypsy dances and the familiar Goyescas Intermezzo; the slightly hazy Naxos sound complements performances that are affectionate and characterful but which, in the last analysis, smoulder rather than blaze.

That’s particularly the case with the largest work on the disc, the two-movement, 34-minute symphonic poem Dante. Apparently contemporaries compared it favourably to Elgar’s First. I wouldn’t go quite that far – the ideas aren’t strong enough and the Tristan influences aren’t fully assimilated – but it’s lush, atmospheric and, in its own way, haunting. González’s expansive performance has stiff competition from Adrian Leaper’s altogether more lustrous Gran Canaria Philharmonic on ASV, though the mezzo Gemma Coma-Alabert makes an affecting Francesca da Rimini. Nonetheless, a welcome addition to the still surprisingly patchy Granados discography.

-- Richard Bratby, Gramophone

More reviews:


Enrique Granados (27 July 1867 – 24 March 1916) was a Spanish pianist and composer of classical music. His music is in a uniquely Spanish style and, as such, is representative of musical nationalism. Granados is best known for his compositions for piano such as 12 Spanish Dances and Goyesca, a suite based on Franciso Goya's painting. Granados was an important influence on at least two other important Spanish composers and musicians, Manuel de Falla and Pablo Casals.


Pablo González (born 1975 in Oviedo) is a Spanish conductor. He studied at the Conservatoire in his hometown and in London at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. González has served as assistant conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra, the Spanish National Youth Orchestra and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Bournemouth Sinfonietta and as principal guest conductor of the Cadaqués Orchestra. He was principal conductor of the Barcelona Symphony and Catalonia National Orchestra from 2010 to 2015.


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