ALBÉNIZ; GRANADOS Piano Concertos
This absorbing disc, the 65th in Hyperion’s endlessly enterprising ‘Romantic Piano Concerto’ series, juxtaposes the Albéniz Concerto with two first recordings: his Rapsodia española in the San Sebastián version, and Granados’s C minor Concerto patético in a reconstruction of fragments by the pianist Melani Mestre. Oddly subtitled Fantástico, the Concerto shows little trace of either Albéniz’s early picture-postcard Spain or the later marvels of his masterpiece, Iberia.
Very much for those who like music that makes few demands, it was elegantly described on its first London performance as ‘pleasing though not lofty in design’. Certainly the second movement’s breezy seaside tune will set heads nodding and feet tapping, and it is remarkable that the authentically Spanish Rapsodia española was completed at the same time as the Concerto. Sultry and Moorish before bursting out into all the fun of the feria, the Rapsodia is hard to resist and will appeal to those in love with all things southern and Spanish.
Yet the chief interest lies in the Granados, solemn and declamatory in the first movement before leaving its C minor sense of elegy to recall two earlier Spanish Dances and the composer’s one unabashed showpiece, the Allegro de concierto. Musical adventure could hardly go further. Impeccably recorded, all the performances by Melani Mestre and the BBC Scottish Orchestra under Martyn Brabbins are of an unfaltering fluency and stylistic command.