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Icon - Alicia De Larrocha


Release Date: 09/14/2010 
Label:  Emi Classics   Catalog #: 29486   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Antonio SolerEnrique GranadosIsaac AlbenizManuel de Falla
Performer:  Alicia De LarrochaVictoria de los Angeles
Number of Discs: 8 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

It would hardly be possible to imagine a more headily performed collection of Spanish piano music.

No doubt piano connoisseurs will relish the opportunity to acquire, in a single, budget-priced bound, all of the late Alicia de Larrocha's EMI recordings. Most of the material originally was recorded for the Spanish Hispavox label in the 1960s, and first appeared on LP in America on Epic. These LP editions provided my first exposure not only to Larrocha but to the important Albéniz Iberia and Granados Goyescas cycles, Falla's piano output, Soler's keyboard sonatas, and choice morsels from Turina's prolific catalog.

Admittedly, the sonics were tinny, and occasionally betrayed a kind of wow and flutter
Read more that made it seem as though the pianist had been immersed in water. While none of EMI's CD transfers (dating from 1992 to 2006) completely correct these defects, Larrocha's colorful, full-bodied sonority and tremendous rhythmic imagination vividly emerge.

I'd go so far as to say that few of Larrocha's Decca and RCA remakes completely recaptured the élan and sparkle of the Hispavox versions, as most random comparisons bear out. Although the 1992 recording of Montsalvatge's wonderful 1953 Concierto Breve lacks the robust detail and animation distinguishing Larrocha's 1977 Decca traversal with Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos leading the Royal Philharmonic, it's good to have the pianist's magical 1971 Hunter College recital with Victoria de Los Angeles in its best sonic manifestation yet. The booklet notes include two lovely remembrances: one by the pianist's daughter Alicia Torra de Larrocha, and the other by her longtime friend and legendary piano maven Gregor Benko.

--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com

It would hardly be possible to imagine a more headily performed collection of Spanish piano music than this eight disc box of Alicia de Larrocha’s EMI recordings made for Hispavox, over a thirty year span. Her earliest LPs, barring a couple of American releases, were made for this company in the 1950s and she remained loyal over the years. Her later Deccas (and RCAs) are probably the better known and were immeasurably better recorded, but there isn’t necessarily a correlation between performance excellence and recorded sound, no matter how splendid those later remakes may have been; and they were indeed excellent.
 
In matters of pinpoint accenting and in terms of the ultimate in phraseology, these early recordings are often just about superior. Many may not have caught her performances of Soler, since she was so closely associated with Granados and Albéniz and Turina, but these highly individual statements open up a continuum of Spanish keyboard excellence back to the eighteenth century. Vivid and strongly sculpted, there is an intensity about these sonata traversals that immediately both excites and detains one. I think it would be fair to point out a degree of romanticisation in some of the performances that may not appeal to more austere tastes, but I happen to find this buoyancy and generosity an attractive feature of the performances.
 
Her Granados Seis Piezas Sobre Cantos Populares Españoles are splendidly nuanced, whether the guitar strum is evoked, as in the Preludio, or in the swaying control of her rhythm, for which you really need to sample Ecos de la Parranda or indeed the declamatory personalisation of Zambra, numbered fifth in the cycle. It would be pertinent to note at this juncture that the Hispavox recordings were hardly state of the art. In fact they were often downright poor, boxy and occasionally distorted. Nevertheless, despite these drawbacks, the essential core of the music emerges as vividly as one could reasonably hope. The dark, dank sonorities that permeate the funereal ethos of El amor y la muerte is just one highlight from her reading of Goyescas, which is housed in the second disc - these are card sleeves by the way, as per usual in the Icon series. It is the sense of naturalness of timbre and rhythm that is so compelling, as it assuredly is in Iberia’s El Puerto, a brilliantly realised reading by the way.
 
Her 1992 recording of Albeniz’s Suite Española is fully poetic, with a genuinely festive kick to Sevilla though even here, at this late date, the recording quality is clangy. There’s also very bad wow during Oriental in the Cantos De España cycle that was presumably impossible to remedy. Her Danzas Españolas are equally convincing and also somewhat sonically superior, the music oozing with personality, élan and sheer charm. The various voices of the third, in D, are richly but unselfconsciously bought out, from gruff bass to treble chatter, whilst in the Valses Poéticos lyricism and dynamism are held in scintillating accord. It’s a shame that the 1953 tapes of Escenas Románticas are in dullish sound, but we can still appreciate the refined quality of the playing and the fine dynamics she employs and, not least, the dancing voluptuousness of Granados’s inspiration.
 
One should on no account overlook her dazzling Turina, a small sample of which she recorded here. Exciting repertoire - not that Turina isn’t - comes via Montsalvatge’s Concerto, a 1992 Barcelona recording with its rich Debussian inheritance amorously projected. Collectors will know that she’d already recorded this work back in 1977 with de Burgos, but this EMI is with García Navarro directing. Finally, as if this isn’t riches enough, we have the concert at Hunter College, City University of New York, given by de Larrocha and Victoria de los Angeles in 1971. From Spanish baroque pieces to Granados and de Falla, this is a formidable and masterly recital with the three cycles - de Falla’s Siete canciones populares español and Granados’ Nueve Tonadillas and Canciones amatorias - demonstrating how adept a collaborative pianist de Larrocha could be, and of course how marvellous was de los Angeles.
 
There are full recording details in the booklet which has two articles, one by de Larrocha’s daughter, Alicia Torra de Larrocha, and the other by Gregor Benko, and both are affectionate, insightful and well worth reading.
 
-- Jonathan Woolf, MusicWeb International  


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Works on This Recording

1.
Sonata(s) for Keyboard by Antonio Soler
Performer:  Alicia De Larrocha (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 18th Century; Spain 
2.
Piezas (6) sobre cantos populares españoles by Enrique Granados
Performer:  Alicia De Larrocha (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Spain 
3.
Goyescas for Piano, Op. 11 by Enrique Granados
Performer:  Alicia De Larrocha (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1911; Spain 
4.
Suite Iberia by Isaac Albeniz
Performer:  Alicia De Larrocha (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1906-1908; France 
5.
Suite Iberia: no 13, Navarra [unfinished] by Isaac Albeniz
Performer:  Alicia De Larrocha (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1906-1908; France 
6.
Azulejos by Isaac Albeniz
Performer:  Alicia De Larrocha (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1909; France 
7.
Suite española, Op. 47 by Isaac Albeniz
Performer:  Alicia De Larrocha (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1886; Madrid, Spain 
8.
Pavana capricho, Op. 12 by Isaac Albeniz
Performer:  Alicia De Larrocha (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1883; Barcelona, Spain 
9.
Recuerdos de Viaje, Op. 71: no 8, Rumores de la caleta by Isaac Albeniz
Performer:  Alicia De Larrocha (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Spain 
10.
Recuerdos de Viaje, Op. 71: no 6, Puerta del tierra by Isaac Albeniz
Performer:  Alicia De Larrocha (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: by 1887; Madrid, Spain 
11.
Cantos de España, Op. 232 by Isaac Albeniz
Performer:  Alicia De Larrocha (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1896; Paris, France 
12.
Canciones populares españolas (7) by Manuel de Falla
Performer:  Victoria de los Angeles (Soprano), Alicia De Larrocha (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1914-1915; Spain 
13.
Tonadillas en un estilo antiguo by Enrique Granados
Performer:  Victoria de los Angeles (Soprano), Alicia De Larrocha (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1910-1911; Spain 
14.
Colección (7) de canciones amatorias by Enrique Granados
Performer:  Victoria de los Angeles (Soprano), Alicia De Larrocha (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Spain 

Sound Samples

Sonata En Re Menor: Nin, I- No. 1
Sonata En Re Mayor: Nin, I No. 5
Sonata En Fa Sostenido Menor: Nin, I No. 6
Sonata En Fa Mayor: Nin, I-No.10
Sonata En Fa Sostenido Mayor: Nin, I-No. 12
Sonata En Do Sostenido Menor: Nin, I-No. 2
Sonata En Sol Menor: Nin, I-No. 8
Sonata En Re Bemol Mayor: Nin, I-No. 9
Seis Piezas Sobre Cantos Populares Españoles / Preludio
Seis Piezas Sobre Cantos Populares Españoles / I "Añoranza"
Seis Piezas Sobre Cantos Populares Españoles / II "Ecos De La Parranda"
Seis Piezas Sobre Cantos Populares Españoles / III "Vascongada"
Seis Piezas Sobre Cantos Populares Españoles / IV "Marcha Oriental"
Seis Piezas Sobre Cantos Populares Españoles / V "Zambra"
Seis Piezas Sobre Cantos Populares Españoles / VI "Zapateado"
Goyescas (1900 Digital Remaster), Book 1: Los requiebros
Goyescas (1900 Digital Remaster), Book 1: Coloquio en la reja
Goyescas (1900 Digital Remaster), Book 1: El fandango de Candil
Goyescas (1900 Digital Remaster), Book 1: Quejas o la maja y el ruiseñor
Goyescas (1900 Digital Remaster), Book 2: El amor y la muerte (Balada)
Goyescas (1900 Digital Remaster), Book 2: Epilogo: La serenada del espectro
Goyescas (1900 Digital Remaster), Book 2: El pelele
Iberia (2006 Digital Remaster), Book 1 (2006 Digital Remaster): Evocación (2006 Digital Remaster)
Iberia (2006 Digital Remaster), Book 1 (2006 Digital Remaster): El puerto (2006 Digital Remaster)
Iberia (2006 Digital Remaster), Book 1 (2006 Digital Remaster): El Corpus en Sevilla (2006 Digital Remaster)

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