Albéniz: Ibéria; Navarra; Suite Española

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Albéniz: Ibéria; Navarra; Suite Española

Alicia de Larrocha

Editor's Choice

A child prodigy, Catalan composer Isaac Albéniz had met the requirements for entry to the Paris Conservatoire's piano class by the age of seven. His young age, however, meant that he didn't attend. We could speculate forever about whether or not this was the best decision for the youthful virtuoso, but by nine he was touring internationally in the care of his father. Before hitting his teenage years, he had made many attempts to abscond and legend has it that he arrived in Cuba as a stowaway, before heading to New York, San Francisco and beyond. The truth is that Albéniz did indeed frequently travel long distances to perform, but always accompanied by his father, whose job required him to travel regularly. Albéniz later studied in Leipzig and Brussels, and having once had high hopes of studying with Liszt in Budapest, he contented himself with composing in a style inspired by the flamboyant Hungarian. Albéniz was also influenced by Bach, Rameau and Chopin, but his musical legacy represents a distinctly Spanish take on the Impressionist movement taking Europe by storm in the later years of his life. Alicia de Larrocha's 1972 recording of the impressionistic 'Iberia' is considered definitive. In a glowing review, the New York Times declared that "there is really nothing in Isaac Albeniz's 'Iberia' that a good three-handed pianist could not master, given unlimited years of practice and permission to play at half tempo. But there are few pianists thus endowed." His fellow Catalonian de Larrocha also performs the 'Suite Española' and 'Navarra' on this release. The former was composed for the Queen Maria Christina of Spain in 1886, and paints evocative images of the diverse regions and musical traditions of Spain. The latter was begun by Albéniz and completed in 1912 by his assistant and former pupil, Déodat de Séverac. read more