Garrick Ohlsson

Enrique Granados: Goyescas

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Veteran pianist Garrick Ohlsson delights the listener with this album of pieces by the Spanish master Enriqué Granados. The sunny quality of the music is enhanced by the bright lightness of the piano and of the recorded sound. Book I of Goyescas has four pieces that are generally of a cheerful, lively character. The first piece is light and agile, played with Ohlsson's flexible touch. It is bold and sweeping, similar in tone to Ravel's La valse. Ohlsson's interpretation makes the music one glorious, continuous stream of sound, although he might have dug a little more into the phrasing. The second piece of Book I is completely different in mood, and Ohlsson interprets it with nuance and genial confidence. The music crescendos into grandeur as it progresses, but then ends on a whisper. The fandango is enticing with rhythms and turns that decorate the melody, dancing with levity. The work concludes with a complex, legato movement that sounds more typically Romantic. Book II has just two movements and is a darker work, as is fitting of a piece entitled "love and death." Somber notes proclaim the beginning of the first movement, and its moodiness is precisely what the listener will savor. Its florid passages tickle the ear; Ohlsson clearly enjoys playing the music. The conclusion of the work is still dark, but simpler, at times less ornamented than the first movement. El pelele is a brief, playful work with a rhythmic motif that repeats through the entire piece. The concluding work of the album, Allegro de concierto, flows with perpetual motion, not unlike Chopin's Minute Waltz. It, too, is sunny and bright (certainly a characteristic of Ohlsson's style), and the pianist makes the chordal and bass progression clearly audible even under all of the detail. Some listeners might find the piece reminiscent of Liszt. Ohlsson is an assured musician whose joy comes across very audibly, and he has chosen repertoire that suits him well. Fans of Ohlsson and Granados will have much to appreciate in this album.

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