Albéniz * Granados

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COMPOSERS: Albeniz,Granados
LABELS: Hyperion
ALBUM TITLE: Albéniz * Granados
WORKS: Albéniz: Concierto fantástico, Op. 78; Rapsodia española, Op. 70; Granados: Concerto in C minor ‘Patético’ (arr. Mestre)
PERFORMER: Melani Mestre (piano); BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Martyn Brabbins
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 67918

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The Spanish pianist and composer Melani Mestre is nothing if not bold, and on this CD he presents a concerto ‘by’ Granados, much of which he has himself written. But first he plays Albéniz’s Concierto fantástico and his Rapsodia española, the latter in a score whose status is also a matter of debate.

Albéniz’s concerto is impregnated throughout with the influence of Chopin, sometimes to a point where you’d think it was by him – particularly in the lyrical opening. Mestre’s playing is limpid and convincing, with Martyn Brabbins and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra giving discreet support (Albéniz’s focus stays firmly on the soloist), but as the first movement turns declamatory it becomes clear that Albéniz didn’t have Chopin’s magic touch. The Reverie which follows has a tender expressiveness, and the Scherzo a Mendelssohnian fizz, with the concluding Allegro making a fine vehicle for Mestre’s virtuosity. The Rapsodia allows Albéniz’s Spanishness to come clearly through, however, with its intense atmosphere, Hispanic intervals, and sequence of dances.

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The first movement of Granados’s concerto (‘Patético’) only exists in fragmentary form, with several blank pages which Mestre has filled in from a two-piano sketch; he’s created the second and third movements by writing symphonic arrangements of two of Granados’s solo piano pieces. This ‘recomposition’ has mixed results: while the first movement has a brooding Romantic power reminiscent of Rachmaninov, the second and third are pale reflections of the piano pieces they are drawn from, with a tendency to schmaltz. Michael Church