Granados: Escenas romanticas; Cuentos de la juventud, Op. 1

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LABELS: Meridian
WORKS: Escenas romanticas; Cuentos de la juventud, Op. 1
PERFORMER: Richard Mapp (piano)
Enrique Granados, whose compositions were regarded by his eminent contemporary Pablo Casals as ‘the purest musical expression of the Spanish soul’, wrote a substantial quantity of piano pieces, some of which are long-standing recital favourites, others of which are almost unknown. The New Zealand pianist Richard Mapp’s enjoyable disc includes both familiar and unfamiliar works, among the former the Danza Espanola No. 5 and the glitteringly Lisztian Allegro de Concierto. The two sets of pieces, Escenas Romanticas (Romantic Scenes) and Cuentos de la Juventud (Songs of Youth, Granados’s Op. 1), are charming rarities, even if the quality of writing is not wholly consistent. Mapp’s playing is gentler than some imagine Spanish music should sound, with a velvety tone and plenty of pedal that helps to relate the music to that of Granados’s Parisian contemporaries such as Debussy and Fauré – not at all inappropriate, since to Granados Paris was the centre of the musical world. Some of the dance pieces are performed with a little too much rubato for my taste, but Mapp’s tenderness and attention to beauty of sound help to cast Granados’s music in a rare and pleasing light. Try the truly gorgeous ‘Epilogo’ of Escenas Romanticas. Jessica Duchen