Thursday, July 24, 2014

Catching up with Albéniz

I owe some of my most interesting repertoire discoveries to one of my mother's relatives. He was a true consumer of vinyl recordings, often buying things just because he liked the look of them in a record store. When he discovered that he did not like the music on those recordings, he would unload them on me. This was usually to my great advantage. As I wrote on my site, my first exposure to the symphonies of Gustav Mahler came through Westminster recordings of Hermann Scherchen's interpretations; and, when the opportunity came to write about these being reissued on CD, I could not resist.

Another one of those hand-me-downs was a ten-inch vinyl of the music of Isaac Albéniz called Spanish Dances. I did not pay much attention to the liner notes; so, as a result, it was some time before I realized that these were all orchestrations of Albéniz piano compositions. It did not take long for me to get hooked on Albéniz' music as he actually wrote it, so I cannot say that I felt any pain in giving up Spanish Dances when I finally sacrificed all of my vinyls to Rasputin. However, now that Naxos has a project under way to record and release all of Albéniz' piano music, many of those tracks leaving me feeling as if I am reencountering old friends. Needless to say, there is very little that Albéniz wrote that I have the skill to play; so there is also the delight of listening to him interpreted by a pianist who has both the technique and the feeling to do so far better than I could ever hope to do.

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