Granados Goyescas; Valses Poéticos
Writing of Goya, Granados recalled his ‘models, quarrels, his loves and flatteries, those pink and white cheeks against lace and black velvet, those tight-waisted bodies, hands of jasmine and mother-of-pearl resting on jet trinkets. All of these thing dazzled and possessed me.’ It is hardly surprising, then, to find his tribute Goyescas teeming with ‘great flights of imagination and difficulties’ (Granados), a daunting and elusive challenge met by both Luis Fernando Pérez and Garrick Ohlsson with formidable command.
Yet pressed, I have to say that it is Pérez who is the more idiomatic and who penetrates to the very heart of the matter. Less rhythmically razor-sharp and focused than his teacher Alicia de Larrocha in, say, ‘El fandango de candil’, he has none the less imbibed much of her inimitable colouration and nuance. His rubato is of a caressing warmth and suppleness, a constant ebb and flow that characterises every aspect of Granados’s sumptuously bejewelled score, and his romantic leeway is very much his own. At the same time, you can’t go far wrong with Ohlsson, who could hardly be more affecting in ‘Quejas, o La maja y el ruiseñor’ or more able to express the dark and glittering hearts of both ‘El amor y la muerte’ and ‘Epílogo, serenate del espectro’.
On brighter notes, Pérez gives us the Valses poéticos as a curtain-raiser, delighting in the irresistable charm of each waltz, while Ohlsson closes with El pelele and the Allegro de concierto, where Granados lets his hair down to produce a gaudy but immensely enjoyable virtuoso frolic. For novel good measure, Pérez adds the Intermezzo transcribed by the composer and written just before his untimely death. Both discs are finely recorded (the Pérez of demonstration quality) and in Pérez you have a major interpreter of a unique and richly challenging masterpiece.