Jean-Francois Heisser

Albéniz: Ibéria

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The initial attraction of this release is its luxurious hardback binding, which contains photographs of Spanish scenes by Isabel Muñoz. This is an excellent idea worth exploration by other artists and businesses, for the combination of high-quality sound and photographic reproductions is difficult to create online. The execution here is a bit off; many of the photographs, instead of being made to fit the page, run asymetrically across the central gutter. The performances of Albéniz's Iberia by French pianist Jean-François Heisser, however, are very nice and fit well with the overall concept of the photographs and, indeed, of the music itself. Iberia is not really a Spanish nationalist work but a work about memories of Spain refracted through a prism of French taste. Heisser's performance diverges from Spanish interpretations. In movements based on dance rhythms he tones down the accents a good deal, but he replaces them with quite a palette of impressionistic colors and dynamics. Sample the scintillating fireworks of the "Fête-Dieu à Seville" (track 3) to hear Heisser at his considerable best. For a basic traditional interpretation of these works one may wish to turn to Alicia de Larrocha's classic readings, but for the fan of Spanish music the situation is different: this is good, fresh stuff, inventively presented and well recorded. The booklet also contains a very nice verbal impression of the music; it's in French and English.

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