Serebrier Conducts Granados
The title is something of a misnomer. José Serebrier and the Concerto Málaga, founded in 1996, offer us not so much a disc of music by Granados as a collection of short works for strings by Spanish and Catalan composers active between the 1870s and 1940s. With the exception of Granados’s own Pequeña romanza, written in 1912 for string quartet, everything included by Albéniz, Granados and Tárrega comes in the form of arrangements that add little to our understanding of the originals.
Strings thicken the delicacy of Granados’s piano-writing, making the two excerpts from Danzas españolas unduly heavyweight, while Pequeña romanza loses some of its intimacy here. Albéniz and Tárrega survive the process fractionally better: Tárrega’s Recuerdos de la Alhambra sounds curiously Impressionist, and Albéniz’s Tango is nicely sultry. But if you care for Spanish music the real focus of interest lies in the original works for strings by some of the less familiar composers. The ultra-refined, late-Romantic sensibilities of Monasterio and Lamote de Grignon contrast sharply with Enric Morera’s near-atonal Desolació, forceful and startling in its concentrated brevity.
Serebrier conducts with considerable poise, gets passionate in the Goyescas Intermezzo and brings genuine charm to the Nocturno from Chapí’s El rey que rabió. A hint of abrasion in the Concerto Málaga’s sound speaks volumes in Desolació, and prevents Monasterio’s religious musings from becoming sentimental or cloying. The playing is accomplished, though the orchestra isn’t always helped by the close, occasionally reverberant recording.