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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars DE LARROCHA IS INIMITABLE IN AN ALL-SPANISH PROGRAMME, 7 Mar 2012
By 
Klingsor Tristan (Suffolk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Alicia de Larrocha - The Complete EMI Recordings (Audio CD)
EMI are more than a little disingenuous in claiming these 8 discs as the complete EMI recordings. Most of them were made for the Spanish company Hispavox, which was only later acquired by EMI - maybe that accounts for the lack of information about recording dates and venues. Many of those Hispavox discs (on vinyl) have been nearly worn out on my player over the years. And I cannot refrain from quoting just one example of their wonderfully eccentric translations in the cover notes: a propos of Granados they say, `Until then there is but vague notices as to the conditions of an artist born in Lerida, good pianist, with certain creative gifts; beginning with the dances, the logical recognition of a merit'!

All that said, these discs are nothing less than pure delight from beginning to end. No-one can match de Larrocha for thrilling, dramatic and totally idiomatic playing in this repertoire. She makes of Soler's Sonatas a real match for Scarlatti's (who also, of course, spent much of his career in Spain and Portugal). Her Granados is magical, whether in the dark hues of the Goyescas or the more rumbustious Danzas Espanolas. Her performance of the Escenas Romanticas shows off his debt to Chopin (indeed the opening Mazurca is almost a straight crib).

But it is Albeniz who is the real centre of these discs. No less a composer/pianist than Messiaen said of Iberia, `Iberia is a wonder for the piano; it perhaps holds the highest place among the more brilliant pieces for the king of instruments.' De Larrocha has always been the supreme mistress of these pieces (she later recorded them for Erato and Decca). In these performances there is always such warm Spanish sunshine shining through their intimidating virtuoso demands. And many of Albeniz' lesser known pieces are revealed by her playing to be just as brilliant and scintillating.

There is Turina, de Falla and Montsalvatge here as well, all impeccably performed. And a real treat, saved up for the final disc, is a live recital from 1971 when de Larrocha accompanied her fellow countrywoman, Victoria de los Angeles, in a selection of Spanish songs including Granados' Tonadillas and Canciones Amatorias and de Falla's Canciones Populares. This is a partnership made in heaven. Both women have the idiom of this music in their bones and the result is revelatory. Here is charm, husky flamenco passion and sheer enjoyment in abundance. Even if the audience is inclined to be a bit over-enthusiastic from the start, these performances merit as much applause as you like. The final encore is a joy.

The old Hispavox recordings tended to be a bit clangy and percussive for my taste, but nothing can really detract from such wonderful playing. De Larrocha is simply inimitable in this repertoire.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive, 8 Jun 2011
By 
Boz1 (Sussex England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Alicia de Larrocha - The Complete EMI Recordings (Audio CD)
Although headlined as EMI recordings most are by a Spanish company which could be an EMI subsidiary. Not to worry as all are very acceptable. I have a few of her Decca recordings of Spanish piano music but many of the pieces here were new to me. Utterly idiomatic all the way through and enormously enjoyable I found. She really catches the essence of Spain which seems to be something at which the French are normally expert. She makes the piano sound remarkably like a guitar at times I thought or was it just that I had heard the music on that instrument previously? The final CD is a live song recital with Victoria de los Angeles which is another treasure trove. A happy purchase.
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