GRANADOS Suite on Galician Songs
Enrique Granados was a victim of the Great War: drowned with his wife in March 1916 after his ferry was torpedoed by a U boat. There’s a sense about his music of promise unfulfilled – not helped by the fact that his piano masterpiece Goyescas has understandably overshadowed his orchestral works. This new Naxos recording is apparently the first in a new series of Granados orchestral discs that should help redress the balance.
Don’t expect castanets and cante jondo, though. The three works on this rather short disc are Romantic nationalism with the emphasis on the Romantic rather than the national. The opening Marcha de los vencidos sets the tone, a sombre ‘March of the Defeated’ whose chromaticism and atmospheric orchestral language hint as much at Bayreuth as at Barcelona.
The incidental music for Fernando Periquet’s historical drama Torrijos makes effective use of a chorus amid its piquant harmonies and martial fanfares, but the Suite sobre cantos gallegos of 1899 is the real discovery: four movements on an expansive scale, treating folk material in a rich, expressive idiom, imaginatively orchestrated. It’s like an Iberian equivalent of Grieg’s Symphonic Dances, and, like all the works on this disc, it’s recorded here for the first time.
Under Pablo González, the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra play with style and evident affection – listen to how freely the oboist phrases the melody at the opening of tr 7. The recording sounds natural, with a wide dynamic range that slightly favours the orchestra over the chorus. Hispanophiles should certainly hear this, though it’ll appeal to anyone who enjoys neglected late Romantic music of the Karłowicz, Alfven or Fibich variety.