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Esplá: Complete Works For Piano Vol 1 / Pedro Carbone


Release Date: 05/26/1998 
Label:  Marco Polo   Catalog #: 225045   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Oscar Esplá
Performer:  Pedro Carbone
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 4 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Esplá's output was melodic, with considerable French influence. Levante, one of the two major works on the disc, could well be viewed as a Spanish equivalent of the music of Erik Satie.

Oscar Esplá was born at Alicante on the south coast of Spain on August 5, 1886. His parents fostered an obvious affinity with music, and provided piano lessons at a very early age. Apart from these lessons in his hometown, he received the normal school education, and passed examinations to go to university in Barcelona, where he was to study engineering. That he remained there for eight years was simply due to the fact that he managed to also enroll for a doctorate in philosophy and arts. The same year that he qualified as
Read more an engineer, 1911, he entered an orchestral work, Suite lavan-tina, in the Vienna National Music Society competition, and a totally unknown young man was awarded the international prize. Saint-Saëns was on the jury and made so many encouraging comments that Esplá rejected his career as an engineer, and he went to Paris to study with Saint-Saëns. His musical reputation in his native country was enhanced in 1930, when he was appointed professor at the Madrid Conservatory, where he was later to become their director.

The Spanish Civil War found his politics on the losing side, and after the Second World War he lived for a time in Brussels, where was appointed director of the Laboratoire Musical Scientifique. Returning to his native land in 1953, he received academic appointments and honors at an alarming rate, and in those postwar years he became the most influential musician in Spain. In 1958 Alicante honored him with the appointment as the first director of the newly constructed Oscar Espla Conservatory. He died in Madrid in 1976, leaving a very diverse catalog of works including several operas, ballets, orchestral works, choral (including a Requiem and cantatas), chamber music, and a considerable quantity of piano music.

His output was melodic, and though we find considerable French influence in many of his scores, his major inspiration comes from popular Spanish music, and it is this immediate attraction that permeates much of his output. The earliest work on the disc dates from 1907, the Romanza Antigua (Ancient Romance), a short cameo that points to a composer of the future. Five years later came Crepusculum, and the advances made were considerable, the score also pointing to his own brilliance as a pianist. In three linked and contrasting sections, not one note is superfluous, and it has a formal perfection not always repeated in his later works.

Tres Movimientos and Cantos date from 1930, and here we find Esplá writing in a popular Spanish dance style. Each score contains three contrasting tempos, the final section of the Three Movements a seductive Paso Doble. Levante, one of the two major works on the disc, was composed the following year. In 10 brief sections it could well be viewed as a Spanish equivalent of the music of Erik Satie.

There is a gap of 18 years to the Sonata Espa?ola of 1949, during which time it seems he wrote little piano music. Prefaced "In memoriam to Frédéric Chopin," it contains a Mazurka with a distinctly modern gait.

The performances from the American-educated pianist, Pedro Carboné, are extremely fine. His Spanish roots bring a very idiomatic atmosphere to the music, while technically he has all the equipment for the more demanding sections. He also has that ability to give the shortest of pieces a significant substance, particularly valuable in such works as Levante, which could all too easily become episodic.

The disc cover describes this as the first volume in the complete piano works of Esplá, and I will much look forward to making further acquaintance with his music. If you have a chance try band 15, the first movement of Tres Movimientos, which will give you a perfect taste for Esplá's happy and uncomplicated style.

-- David Denton, FANFARE [1/1999]
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Works on This Recording

1.
Levante by Oscar Esplá
Performer:  Pedro Carbone (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1931 
Date of Recording: 1996 
2.
Crepusculum by Oscar Esplá
Performer:  Pedro Carbone (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1912 
Date of Recording: 1996 
3.
Movimientos (3) for Piano by Oscar Esplá
Performer:  Pedro Carbone (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1921 
Date of Recording: 1996 
4.
Romanza Antigua by Oscar Esplá
Performer:  Pedro Carbone (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Date of Recording: 1996 
5.
Chants d'antan by Oscar Esplá
Performer:  Pedro Carbone (Piano)
Date of Recording: 1996 
6.
Sonata Española for Piano by Oscar Esplá
Performer:  Pedro Carbone (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Date of Recording: 1996 

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