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Jeremy Nicholas
Gramophone, February 2011

The Falla programme is a reissue of the pianist’s 1973 Decca recording (Kingsway Hall again) rather than her harsh-sounding selection for Hispavox/EMI made in the late 1950s. Larrocha does not play the music as much as inhabit it. The Cuatro Piezas españolas, inspired by Albéniz’s Ibéria, are given peerless performances. It’s a wonder they are not better known. The fourth of them, “Andaluza”, aptly prefaces the Fantasia Baetica (“Baetica” being the Roman name for Andalusia). Composed for Arthur Rubinstein, who gave the premier and then abandoned it, it is not the most gratefully written piece for two hands but its vibrant colours, astringent harmonies and piquant, ever-changing rhythms make it one of the most evocative of showpieces. The suites derived from Falla’s two ballet scores, ending with the “Ritual Fire Dance”, round off this shortish but exceptional disc.

Jack Sullivan
American Record Guide, January 2011

An all-Falla album by Alicia De Larrocha at the height of her powers very well recorded is one idea of Nirvana. No one plays this repertory with more authority and magic. Many pianists are content to bang this music or exaggerate the rubato, but she has a subtle intoxication that makes Cuatro Pieces Espanolas, ‘Pantomine’, and others uncommonly limpid and poetic. Even fiery pieces like the ‘Ritual Fire Dance’ are rich-textured and full of subtle colors.

How does she do it? The piano sounds different than any other, including the instruments in the new EMI compilation. Indeed, the Steinway used for this 1973 Decca recording was reputed to have a superb attack and an unusual capacity for smooth repeated notes (there are many in this music). But it is De Larrocha’s touch that makes the difference: that nuanced, sexy sound made more so by imaginative pedaling and uncanny voicing. Many find her subtle sense of rhythm, so important in this repertory, the most distinctive element in her playing; but it is her unique sense of color that most bewitches me. This recording captures it uncannily well.

Erik Levi
BBC Music Magazine, October 2010

De Larrocha provides a totally engrossing recital relishing Falla’s sultry impressionism as well as the more percussive folkloric style of his Fantasia Baetica. A wonderful memorial to a great pianist.

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3:13:55 PM, 28 April 2015
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