Sunday, 4 March 2012

More than just fingers

Enrique Granados's Allegro de concierto, Op.46 is one of those works where the virtuosity of the pianist is placed front-stage. It's known to be one of the most fiendishly difficult examples of its kind. Thankfully it's a good deal more than merely a dazzling display piece for a performer's fingers and alongside the sort of sparkling bravura we find in Liszt we also get to hear that side of Granados's deeply romantic make-up which draws deeply on the poetic example of Chopin and Schumann.

From such name-checks you might well gather that the work doesn't sound very Spanish. Unlike his other famous works - the gorgeous Goyescas and the Spanish Dances - their are few Latin rhythms and no guitar-like writing. The piece is much more in the spirit of a Chopin Ballade, with an heroic spirit that also embraces rich lyrical melody. There are some ravishing moments where that lyricism is allowed to sing on top of delicate accompaniments. The piece builds inexorably towards an exciting climax before recapitulating the main material in reverse order and then launching into a short but  impressive coda.

In the hands of the likes of the great Alicia de Larrocha this work is an obvious masterpiece. 

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