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8.557939-40 - GRANADOS, E.: Piano Music, Vol. 9 (Riva) - Transcription of 26 Sonatas by D. Scarlatti
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Enrique Granados (1867-1916)
Piano Music • 9 • Scarlatti Sonata Transcriptions


Enrique Granados was born on 27 July in Lleida, near Barcelona. After his family moved to Barcelona, Granados began piano study there in 1879 and the following year he continued with Joan Baptista Pujol (1835-1898). In 1883 he won a competition performing Schumann's Sonata, Op. 22. One of the jury members was the noted composer Felip Pedrell (1841-1922), who began giving Granados classes in harmony and composition the following year. 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 emphasised improvisation in his teaching, reinforcing his pupil's natural ability in the skill. After returning to Barcelona in 1889, Granados published his Danzas españolas, which brought him international recognition.

Both a pianist and conductor, during his career Granados performed concerts in Spain, France and New York collaborating with violinists Eugène Ysaÿe and Jacques Thibaud, pianists Mieczyslaw Horszowski and Camille Saint-Saëns and conductors such as Isaac Albéniz and Pablo Casals. Granados was also a fine teacher. In 1901 he founded the Academia Granados, which continues today as the Academia Marshall under the direction of Alicia de Larrocha.

In 1912 Granados met the American pianist Ernest Schelling, who was the first pianist to perform Granados's music outside Spain. Schelling arranged for his works to be published by G. Schirmer in New York and encouraged Granados in his plans to convert his piano suite Goyescas into an opera, later arranging for its première at the Metropolitan Opera. Terrified of the ocean, Granados nevertheless sailed to New York for the première of the opera on 28 January 1916. While in the United States he performed numerous concerts, made piano-roll recordings, and also performed at the White House. Granados and his wife set sail back to Europe via Liverpool but while crossing the English Channel on the British ship Sussex, their boat was torpedoed by a German submarine and they both perished.

About the year 1912 Granados wrote: "My motto has always been to renounce an easy success in order to achieve one that is true and lasting." Today he 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 characterization adequately describes his personality, since Granados 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, and, like most composers of his era, by Wagner. 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.

Through the influence of his teacher, Felip Pedrell, and coupled with his life-long fascination with everything relating to the eighteenth century in Spain, Granados transcribed for the piano 26 Sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757) which were originally composed for the harpsichord. In his Introduction to the first edition Pedrell explains that Granados based his transcriptions on a manuscript of still unpublished works by Scarlatti which had at that time been recently discovered. In the belief that these works needed to be brought up-to-date through a transcription to the piano, the owners of the manuscript, the publishers Vidal y Llimona, entrusted the task to the young Granados. At the time he wrote his transcriptions Scarlatti's Sonatas were virtually unknown. Thus, Granados attempted to modernise Scarlatti's music for the public of the day which was apparently little disposed to listen to the original version.

During the second half of the nineteenth century and the first part of the twentieth there was a significant demand for piano transcriptions of works from other genres owing to two important social circumstances: the diffusion of the piano as the leading musical instrument in homes coupled with the public's desire to have the opportunity to listen on repeated occasions in their homes to music that was originally composed for the concert hall or opera house. Granados was not especially prolific as a transcriber. Nevertheless, in his transcriptions for piano of 26 Sonatas by Scarlatti he demonstrated himself to be an intelligent transcriber for modern piano literature of the original version composed for the harpsichord.

As a composer poised between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries it is not surprising that Granados's transcriptions are highly varied. In some, such as Nos. 12 and 25, he modified the original harmonies, while in others, such as Nos. 2, 11 and 15, he amplified the original texture with octaves and passages in thirds and sixths. In several of the Sonatas his inspiration led him to transform Scarlatti's original conception into a version which is almost completely opposed to the original, such as Nos. 4 and 17, while in others, such as No. 18, he made fewer modifications. Granados joined Sonatas Nos. 19 and 20 together giving them the title, Introduzione e Sonata. All the transcriptions, however, provide written-out realisations of Scarlatti's ornaments rather than leaving them to the imagination of the performer.

Scarlatti's originals are almost devoid of expressive indications. Granados, however, provides numerous expressive indications in his transcriptions, such as: Con sentimento un poco appassionatamente e suplicante, molto ad libitum e con tenerezza, legato col pedale ma staccato con la mano, etc. In the score of Sonata No. 5, Granados wrote: "Keep mythology in mind when playing this Sonata, [it is] lik e a scene from one of Gluck's lyric dramas".

Although Granados attributed all the Sonatas on which he based his transcriptions to Scarlatti, two of them, Nos. 10 and 13, were composed by others. Sonata No. 10, one of Granados's most imaginative and brilliant transcriptions, is based on a sonata by Francisco Courcelle (1702-1778). It has not been possible to determine the composer of the original of Granados's charming Sonata No. 13.

Douglas Riva


This performance follows the critical edition of the Complete Works for Piano of Enrique Granados, published by Editorial Boileau, S.A., Barcelona, Spain, Alicia de Larrocha, Director and Douglas Riva, Assistant Director.


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