COMPOSERS: Enrique Granados
ALBUM TITLE: Granados
WORKS: Suite sobre cantos gallegos; Torrijos – incidental music; Marcha de los vencidos
PERFORMER: Cor Madrigal; Barcelona Symphony Orchestra/Pablo González
CATALOGUE NO: Naxos 8.573263
It was 100 years ago this March that Enrique Granados died at sea, victim of a German U-boat. Naxos is marking the anniversary with a new series of his orchestral music, beginning with this disc of early works from the 1890s. The March of the Defeated is oddly hurried, with few memorable ideas except in the more lyrical middle section. The movements written for Fernando Periquet’s play Torrijos (including three simple chorus numbers) have a habit of falling away from a dramatic introduction to something at much lower voltage. The half-hour-long Suite on Galician songs outstays its welcome, getting bogged down far too often by drone basses imitating the region’s bagpipes – though the melodies of the third movement, ‘Morriña’ or ‘Homesickness’, do tug at the heartstrings.
Under its former music director Pablo González, the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra makes the most of this material, with fresh and expressive woodwind (the oboist is outstanding), bright brass and silky strings, captured in a clear recording. But the performances can’t convince me that these early orchestral works have anything like the flair and vividness of Granados’s music – including the Spanish Dances of the same period – for his own instrument, the piano.