Thursday, 26 July 2018

CD Review (The Straits Times, July 2018)

Piano Duo Carles & Sofia
KNS Classical A/050 / ****1/2

Piano fanciers will be familiar with Goyescas (1911), the suite of seven rather difficult solo piano pieces by Spanish composer Enrique Granados (1867-1916) inspired by Francisco Goya's paintings of Spanish nobility and their romances. Rather less well-known is the one-act opera Goyescas (1915), based on these pieces, orchestrated and with voices added by the composer. 

It was premiered at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City in January 1916 during the height of the First World War. Granados unfortunately drowned on his return voyage to Europe when his ship was torpedoed by a German submarine.

This is the premiere recording of a transcription of the hour-long opera for piano four hands by Catalan composer-pianist Abraham Espinosa. All the popular music is reprised, including the bittersweet Maiden And The Nightingale and the final ballad Love And Death. The bouncy dance of the tossed strawman El Pelele is not tacked on at the end but actually opens the opera after a short introduction. 

Some new music is added as interludes, leading into favourites like Los Requiebros (Flatteries) and the Serenade By Candlelight. The Catalan duo of Carles Lama and Sofia Cabruja, who commissioned the transcription, truly revel in its eight movements. While the original solo is a  virtuoso vehicle, this idiomatic four hands version represents a triumph of ensemble work.  

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