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Artur Pizarro - Albeniz & Granados - BBC Music Magazine

The pianist that his admirers have long wanted to hear in Iberia delivers a cultivated and probing performance that seems destined to grow greater with familiarity. In this he's at one with several colleagues. Such are the difficulties of ascending the summit of Spanish piano literature that only the most skilled and dedicated artists get there. Substandard recordings are hard to find - rather, there's a spread of excellences, from the dancing fluency of Alicia de Larrocha to the fantastical and subtle virtuosity of Marc-André Hamelin and the breadth, bite and layering of Aldo Ciccolini. It's to Pizarro's incidental credit that in a fascinating booklet note about his links to the work's history he recalls not only his Portuguese teachers, who descended from the Latin mainstream, but the time he spent studying with Ciccolini. That is audibly one of the directions he comes from. He brings spaciousness and a fine balancing of inner parts, in chords and counterpoint alike, alongside a freedom and energy very much his own. While he can be rhetorical and declamatory, especially about the many Arabic elements, his formidable technique provides the means to a musical and poetic end, rather than causing flamboyance.

For Granados's own Everest the story is similar, concentrated and full of responsive nuances, right from the lyrical opening where dance lurks in the background and its vivacity is tempered by hints of the darkness to come, and especially focused in the intense quartet-hour span of ‘El amor y la muerte'. Again the playing occupies a distinctive position alongside the steady, rhythmically responsive Ciccolini and the more immediate vivacity of Larrocha. The recorded sound catches the light, mellow timbre of the modern Blüthner that Pizarro chose to suggest period character without period fragilities.

BBC Music Magazine
10 June 2010