About this Recording
8.554629 - GRANADOS, E.: Piano Music, Vol. 4 (Riva) - Romantic Waltzes / Poetic Waltzes / Aragonese Rhapsody
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Enrique Granados (1867-1916)

Piano Music Volume 4

Enrique Granados was born 27th July 1867 in Lérida, near Barcelona. Son of an army captain, he began piano study in 1879 and the following year he continued with Joan Baptista Pujol (1835-1898) at the Academia Pujol. Three years later he performed Schumann's Sonata, Op. 22, in an academy-sponsored competition, for which one of the jury members was the noted composer Felipe Pedrell (1841-1922). The sixteen-year-old Granados won the competition and obviously impressed Pedrell, who began giving Granados classes in harmony and composition in 1884.

In 1887 Granados went to Paris, where he studied with Charles de Bériot (1833-1914). He was highly influenced by Bériot's insistence on tone-production and pedal technique. In addition, Bériot emphasized improvisation in his teaching, reinforcing Granados' natural ability in the skill. After returning to Barcelona in 1889, he published his Danzas españolas, which brought him international recognition.

In his lifetime Granados performed concerts in Spain, France and New York, collaborating with musicians such as Isaac Albéniz and Pablo Casals, violinists Eugène Ysäye and Jacques Thibaud, pianists Mieczyslaw Horszowski and Camille Saint-Saëns. In addition to his numerous piano works he composed chamber music, vocal music, operas, and symphonic poems. Granados was also a fine teacher and in 1901 he founded the Academia Granados, which produced such noted musicians as Paquita Madrigueta, Conchita Badia, and Frank Marshall.

In 1912 Granados met American pianist Ernest Schelling, who was the first pianist to perform Granados' music outside Spain. Schelling arranged for Granados' works to be published in New York and encouraged him in his plans to convert the piano suite Goyescas into an opera, later arranging for its première at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

Terrified of the ocean, Granados nevertheless sailed to New York for the premiere of the opera on 28th January 1916. While in the United States he performed numerous concerts, made piano-roll recordings, and also performed at the White House in Washington. He and his wife set sail to Europe by way of England but while crossing the English Channel on the British ship Sussex, their boat was torpedoed by a German submarine and they both perished.

About 1912 Granados wrote: "My motto has always been to renounce an easy success in order to achieve one that is true and lasting." Today, Granados is universally recognised as one of Spain's most important composers. His music is multi-faceted, although it is essentially Romantic with some Nationalist characteristics. He has been variously described as "the Spanish Chopin", "the last Romantic", and by his compatriots as "our Schubert". No single characterisation adequately describes his personality. He had a distinctive voice that is instantly recognisable and entirely his own.

Granados was primarily influenced by mid-nineteenth century European Romanticism, especially the music of Schumann and Chopin. The introverted luxuriance of his luminous harmonies, his rich palette of pianistic colour, loose formal structures and his vivid imagination, always tinged with nostalgia, place him firmly within the Romantic School. It has frequently been commented that large forms such as sonatas and concertos did not attract Granados. His artistic personality was better suited to shorter, rhapsodic forms, especially those based on variations.

In a notation included in the manuscript of Apariciones–Valses románticos Granados indicated that he considered Apariciones to be a preliminary study for Valses poéticos: "The first collection of the Valses poéticos was in this form. Revise and Publish." Among the revisions that Granados made to Apariciones, he selected seven of the original eighteen waltzes, revised them and subsequently published them as part of Valses poéticos. The remainder of Apariciones–Valses románticos, Introducción: Presto and the waltzes which were not subsequently incorporated into Valses poéticos were not published. Valses poéticos was written about 1893-94, consequently, Granados must have been working on Apariciones previously, probably between 1891 and 1893. This is the first recording of Apariciones–Valses románticos.

It is impossible to know the exact date of composition of A la cubana since the manuscript is not dated. The work was published in 1914, however, by the style of writing Granados must have composed A la cubana sometime earlier, possibly before 1898, the year when Spain lost control of Cuba.

Granados was highly influenced by the music of Robert Schumann. Granados and Schumann shared a similarity of outlook which led each of them to seek the universal within the particular. Both composers based much of their music on constant alteration of emotions, brought to life through richly coloured harmonies. Schumann's Scenes of Childhood, Op. 15, and Album for the Young, Op. 68, were the inspiration for Granados' Cuentos de la juventud and Escenas infantiles–Miniaturas. The latter collection, Escenas infantiles–Miniaturas, recorded here for the first time, was not published during the composer's lifetime. Probably neither collection was intended for children to play but rather as recollections of childhood emotions and experiences. The fifth piece of Cuentos de la juventud, Viniendo de la fuente evokes the time when water was carried from the local fountain to homes for domestic use. The use of these three asterisks as a title in *** Lento con ternura was borrowed directly from Schumann's Album for the Young, Op. 68. Apparently representing a work so poetic and highly charged in its emotion that it cannot be named, these asterisks were also used by Granados as a title for several other pieces, most notably a movement of Escenas románticos (Naxos 8.554628). The slightly awkward rhythm of Marcha reminds us of a somewhat lame soldier. The final piece of Escenas infantiles–Miniaturas, El niño duerme recalls the conclusion of Schumann' s Scenes of Childhood, Op. 15–The Poet Speaks.

Jota from Miel de la Alcarria is a piano solo version, arranged by the composer, of a section of the incidental music which Granados composed for the 1894 rural melodrama Miel de la Alcarria [Honey from Alcarria] by Jose Feliu y Codina. Jota was probably composed circa 1894.

Valses poéticos is one of Granados' earliest masterpieces. The sub-titles of the individual waltzes were included in the programme of his first performance of Valses poéticos in 1895. The subtitles were not included, however, in editions of the work published during his lifetime. He clearly valued Valses poéticos as one of his finest works, recording the work for the Welte-Mignon Reproducing Piano and frequently performing Valses poéticos in concerts, including one of his final recitals, New York, 23rd January, 1916.

In the earliest known copy of Rapsodia aragonesa, a printer's proof dated 1901 corrected by the composer, Granados crossed out the title and wrote: "no, no, no, no, no and no–this title was given by the publisher". However, since the composer did not suggest an alternate title, the publisher's title, Rapsodia aragonesa has remained. The work is dedicated to Granados' colleague, the British pianist Harold Bauer.

Aparición was composed for the "Cateura" pedal piano, an instrument invented around Barcelona at the beginning of the twentieth Century. No known examples of the "Cateura" are known to have survived, however, through indications in the scores of the works which Granados wrote for it, the pedals must have provided special colouristic effects. Aparición is dedicated to "Miss Jennine Rutherford Grawshaw". Her relationship to Granados is not known.

Douglas Riva


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