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Albeniz & Granados - Artur Pizarro - International Record Review


12 July 2010
International Record Review
Nicholas Salwey

The early deaths of both Albéniz and Granados - curiously both at the age of 49 years - doubtless deprived us of what would have been a vast corpus of piano works. Albéniz died in 1909, from Bright's disease, while the circumstances of Granados's death are perhaps the most poignant of any composer. Crossing the English Channel in 1916 his ship was torpedoed by a German submarine. Granados was picked up by a lifeboat but he saw his wife floundering in the sea and dived in to rescue her: tragically both of them drowned. We can at least be thankful for their two most major piano works, recorded here, which are among the richest in the repertory: as Messiaen said of Albéniz's Iberia, ‘it is perhaps on the highest place among the more brilliant pieces for the king of instruments'.

It must take some courage to record these works. Not only are the technical challenges immense - Artur Pizarro comments that Iberia is ‘as mind-numbingly difficult as Ravel's Gaspard'...

Pizarro provides his own programme notes, relating the formative influence of these masterpieces on his musical upbringing and including welcome detail on the works themselves (though curiously omitting translations for the movement titles of the Goyescas). No newcomer to this repertory could be disappointed with Pizarro's accounts: he benefits from a first-rate recording and, for a modern version of both these works, there is an enormous amount to commend it...


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