I've reviewed in the last week those "spanish" recordings of Iberia I think are the best: Larrocha & Sánchez; the very "classical" version the first one and a very racial performing the second.
As a masterwork, Iberia accepts many possible performances and possibilities, of course because of his complexity and the very rich possibilities of his technical writing and the multiple melodies, some of them based on spanish popular tunes.
What's new in this performance? Mainly, the fact of opening a way in Iberia's interpretation, much more "international" and much more influenced by the impressionism which Albéniz knew very well from the own Debussy's works.
Daniel Barenboim is a wonderful pianist, among the best in history, and he has a very long experience in playing germanic music, since Bach to Mozart, from Beethoven to Brahms; and with a very long experience in playing piano music from different countries, styles and periods. His relation with french music is well known, much more than with the spanish, something I think is felt clearly in this CD. It's hard to find an Iberia with this amazing technical control, with this fingers' precision, with this master use of the pedal, the echoes, the silences... Barenboim really explores Iberia as pure music; of course with the presence of the popular and folk tunes, but over all from the point of view of a technical jewel of the piano literature.
It's a shame Daniel Barenboim didn't record the second book, which I think we'll never have on Barenboim's hands, as far as I know. I have another recording of some this pieces performed by Daniel Barenboim in the argentinian Teatro Colón, on his 50th anniversary as performer, released by EuroArts together with a documentary about his life. In my opinion, this versions are really very different, much more objective this studio recording from Germany and much more personal, subjective, intimate and magical the live recording from Argentina. In his live recording from the Teatro Colón, Barenboim treats the piece as a really personal poetry, full of lyric, echoes and silences which take us to a really unknown view of this piece.
The recording is technically very good and the booklet very interesting too.
As conclusion, with Larrocha (Decca, DDD) and Sánchez (Ensayo / Brilliant), a must have to know Iberia from some of the most interesting points of view.