Artur Pizarro - Albeniz & Granados - The Guardian

By pairing the two greatest works in the Spanish piano repertory, completed within a couple of years of each other around 1910, Artur Pizarro certainly sets himself some enormous challenges, both musically and technically. But as the Portuguese pianist points out in his fascinating sleevenotes, both are works he has known all his life, and that familiarity certainly pays dividends in these likable performances, which have a wonderfully natural feel to them. Granados's suite Goyescas is the more easy going of the works, a distinctly soft-edged translation of Goya's visual world into musical terms, and Pizarro captures that slight air of sentimentality perfectly. The 12 pieces, divided into four books, which make up Albéniz's Iberia are much more complex and in them, Pizarro is not always as assertive and highly characterised as he might be, for all the clarity that he brings to the dauntingly busy textures. Unusually these days, he used a Blüthner piano for the recording. The reasons for his choice are argued very cogently - it has, he reckons, the kind of action that is nearest among modern pianos to that of the instruments Albéniz and Granados would have written for, and its sound certainly makes a pleasant change from that of the ubiquitous Steinway.

29 April 2010