GRANADOS Elisenda. Liliana. Suite oriental
Softly chiming horns open this final instalment in Naxos’s three-disc series of rare orchestral works by Enrique Granados. They launch the Preludio of a short suite arranged by Pablo Casals from Granados’s 1911 ‘lyric poem’ Liliana and, like all the pieces on this recording, this is music that creates a particular atmosphere: languid, colourful and essentially lyrical. Glazunov and the Russian nationalists came to mind, and the third movement, ‘Canto de las ranas’, could almost be a missing Polovtsian Dance.
A touch more of that energy might not have gone amiss in the Suite orientale (1888 89) – a postcard from North Africa in pastels and watercolours – though Pablo González and the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra respond, as they have throughout this series, with warmth and an attractively natural sense of how to turn a phrase. The Barcelona strings aren’t the most luxurious in the world but they can surge and shimmer with the best when Granados demands it. The woodwinds are the real stars, though: supple oboes with just a hint of a nasal buzz (listen to the opening section of the first movement, ‘Ante el desierto’), smoky flutes and mellow clarinets. Moving together, they make a luminous sound: who said orchestras all sound the same these days?
Both these works are recorded here for the first time but accounts of Elisenda (1912) for piano and chamber orchestra aren’t exactly flooding the catalogue either, and pianist Dani Espasa plays its three pastoral movements (the booklet-note describes them as ‘modernist’ but stylistically they’re somewhere between Fauré and Finzi’s Eclogue) with delicacy and grace, complemented by shapely cello and violin solos from the BSO principals. A gentle finish to an enjoyable series.