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8.554313 - GRANADOS, E.: 12 Spanish Dances (Torres-Pardo)
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Enrique Granados (1867-1916)
12 Spanish Dances; Study

The tragic death of Enrique Granados on 24th March, 1916, while returning to Spain, deprived the country of one of its most talented composers. The "Sussex", the ship he was travelling home on, was torpedoed by a German submarine between Folkestone and Dieppe, after the success in New York's Metropolitan Opera House of his opera Goyescas. In fact, Granados and Isaac Albéniz, leading champions of nationalist and post-romantic currents, were responsible for launching Spanish music forward towards horizons of unquestionable internationalism. Born in Lérida, on 27th June 1867, Granados died before his 49th birthday, at the height of his career.

Goyescas is his masterpiece, in its original form for piano, which he later adapted into an opera. The piano-writing of this work succeeds in condensing a whole style of composing music, and with it the composer achieves a series of characteristic pictures, pure romanticism in the style of Chopin or Schumann, his favourite composers, impregnated with a touch of Madrid, reflecting the essence of pictures by Goya, whom he admired to the point of successfully copying his paintings, because painting was another passion of Enrique Granados.

Another of his famous compositions is his collection of Danzas españolas (Spanish dances), which is divided into four "notebooks", three pieces in each one of them, as with Albéniz's Suite Iberia. The first one, bearing the title Galante, is a sort of bolero with a brilliant and elegant opening. With its clearly-marked melismas, the second is called Oriental. Energico (with energy) characterizes the Fandango, the third of the Danzas Españolas. The fourth, which starts Cuaderno 2, is a unique piano composition, a Villanesca, of rural origin and directed by Granados to be played alla pastorale. The fifth, the most famous work of the whole collection, is a monothematic dance and song showing initial sadness and languidness which later becomes more dramatic and brilliant. It is more often called Andaluza than Playera. The sixth, the Rondalla Aragonesa, is a genuine jota with popular song included. The seventh of the Danzas, the Valenciana or Calesera, opening Cuaderno 3, harks back to the force of the Spanish jotas, in this case those with roots in Valencia, and displays a brilliant economy of means. The eighth is a Sardana, with its special rhythms, interpreted like a Catalan cobla. The ninth, with overtones of Chopin together with intrusions of the Tonadilla, has the title Ramantic, and suggests Spanish heel-tapping or zapateado Cuaderno 4 is opened by the tenth of the Danzas españolas, the Melancólica, whose three voices intertwine, with great skill, melody and accompaniment within the whole. The eleventh is the Arabesca, reflecting a zambra or Moorish Festival, and the last, the twelfth, Bolero, is more than similar to the very Spanish dance giving it its title.

Estudio, a posthumous work published in 1937, marked Andantino espressivo, is really an ingenious theme with free variation.

Antonio Iglesias
English Version by Keith Anderson


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