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Enrique GRANADOS (1867-1916)
Dante, Symphonic Poem (1907-08) [31:02]
Cinco Piezas sobre Cantos Populares Españoles (arr. Ferrer) [24:05]
Goyescas: Quejas ó La Maja y el Ruiseñor (1916) [9:06]
Goyescas (opera): Intermezzo (1916) [5:03]
Frances Lucey (soprano); Nancy Fabiola Herrera (mezzo)
Orquesta Filarmónica de Gran Canaria/Adrian Leaper
rec. 2000, Sala Gabriel Rodó, Las Palmas
ALTO ALC1348 [69:20]

Alto is a budget label well worth watching if you have a taste for unusual repertoire in accomplished performances and recordings. They have a well-honed connection with Russian sources but here they resurrect a disc that first appeared on ASV CDDCA1110. The orchestral works of Granados have been given the Edition treatment by Naxos but this disc serves sturdily as a single CD anthology. Adrian Leaper and his Gran Canaria orchestra did gifted service for the now long-gone Arte Nova label. ASV continued the Hispanic connection until the axe fell again.

This collection includes the sumptuously late-romantic Dante symphonic poem. It's in two swooning, heaving and rhapsodic movements. The second of these - the more dramatic of the two - includes an extended Straussian part for soprano. That role is taken here by the commandingly balanced Frances Lucey. Granados's language on this occasion is caught somewhere between the sultry tropics of Wagner, Liszt, Delius and Strauss. The subject matter had earlier attracted, in tone poem form, Tchaikovsky in his finer and more potent Francesca da Rimini and Bantock in his Dante and Beatrice. Very helpfully the sung words are supplied in the Spanish and English; likewise those for La Maja y el Ruiseñor.

Then come five pieces based on Cantos Populares Españoles. These appear in arrangements by Anselm Ferrer (1882-1969) They are: Añoranza; Ecos de la Parranda; Zapateado; Zambra; Miel de la Alcarria: Jota. These are opulent and are painted in Iberian colours. The third is the luxuriously creamy Zapateado - more matronly than youthful but that is true of all these high cholesterol arrangements. The final two pieces are from the year of Granados's death. La Maja y el Ruiseñor takes more than a leaf out of the Dante score's hymn-sheet. It's similarly warm and delightful with the nightingale in full song towards the end. The Straussian Nancy Fabiola Herrera does nothing to break the spell. Granados bows out with the Intermezzo from his opera Goyescas. It is one of this composer's 'hits' and combines Italianate verismo warmth, the cool of Sibelius's Valse Triste and the thunderous drumming of tragedy.

There are excellent notes in English only by Peter Avis. They are a good fit for a disc that invites and welcomes exploration of a composer you might well know only for his piano sequence, Goyescas.

Rob Barnett



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