GRANADOS: Goyescas

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Enrique Granados(1867-1916)

Goyescas - Suite forPiano

Enrique Granados was born in Lerida, near Barcelona. Son of an armycaptain, Granados began piano study with Joan Baptista Pujol (1835-1898) andsubsequently studied harmony and composition with composer Felipe Pedrell(1841-1922).

The young Granados realised that in order to achieve his professionalaspirations he would need to leave Spain. In 1887 he went to Paris where hestudied with Charles de Beriot (1833-1914). After returning to Barcelona in1889 Granados published his Danzas espanalas, which brought himinternational recognition.

From 1890 until his death Granados performed concerts in Spain, Franceand the United States collaborating with Isaac Albeniz, Pablo Casals,violinists Eug?¿ne Ysa??e and Jacques Thibaud, pianists Mieczyslaw Horszowski andCamille Saint-Saens. In addition to his numerous piano works he composedchamber music, vocal music, operas and symphonic poems. Granados was also afine teacher and in 1901 he founded the Academia Granados, which produced suchnoted musicians as Paquita Madriguera, Conchita Badia and Frank Marshall.

In 1912 Granados met the American pianist Ernest Schelling, who was thefirst pianist to perform Granados's music outside Spain. Schelling arranged forthe composer's works to be published in New York and encouraged Granados in hisplans to convert the piano suite Goyesca, into an opera, later arrangingfor its premi?¿re at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

Terrified of the ocean, Granados nevertheless sailed to New York for thepremi?¿re of the opera on the 28th January, 1916. While in New York he performednumerous concerts, made piano-roll recordings, and performed at the White Housein Washington. Granados and his wife returned to Europe via Liverpool but whilecrossing the English Channel on the British ship The Sussex, their boat wastorpedoed by a German submarine and they both perished.

At age 43 Granados wrote in his diary: 'Finally I have had the goodfortune to write something important - Goyescas'. Subtitled Los majosenamorados ('The Majos in Love'), Goyescas was published in twobooks, the first in 1909-1910 and the second in 1913-1914, along with aseparate piece El pelele: Escena goyesca, traditionally considered asapart of Goyescas. The work is possibly unique in that the suite wassubsequently transformed by the composer into an opera.

Goyescas, the title meaning Goya-esque or Goya-?¡like, is highly unusual in thecomplex nature of its inspiration. Through the influence of writer FernandoPeriquet, Granados became inspired by the Spanish painter Francisco Goya(1746-1828). Granados drew inspiration from the painter's ability to depictwhat Granados saw as the essence of the Spanish character. It was theatmosphere, the people and the details of their lives within the context ofGoya's Madrid, which spoke to Granados. He explained his fascination in a 1910letter: '...I fell in love with the psychology of Goya and his palette... thatrosy-whiteness of the cheeks contrasted with lace and jet-black velvet, thosejasmine-white hands, the colour of mother-of-pearl have dazzled me...'

Goyescas is one of the truly great effusions of Romantic pianism and one of themost important Spanish keyboard works. Goyescas is a cyclical suiteunified by thematic material and by its brilliant colour. Its jewel-tonedharmonies, violent mood swings, and post-Romantic fervour led the critic ErnestNewman to describe Goyescas as '...the finest piano music of our day...

a gorgeous treat for the fingers...' giving the performer and listener alike the'... voluptuous sense of passing the fingers through masses of richly-coloured jewels'. Indeed, thework is a formidable challenge for the performer - its complex passagework andrich texture require a virtuoso level of pianistic technique.

Los requiebros ('Flattery'), inspired by Goya's Capricho, Tal paracual, was written as ajota, a dance-form from Goya's native Aragon. Losrequiebro, is a set of variations based on two phrases of an eighteenthcentury tonadilla, Tirana del Tripili, by Blas de Laserna.

In Coloquio en la reja - D??o de amor ('Dialogue at the window' -love duet) Granados creates a mood of veiled mystery filled with romanticyearning depicting a lady inside her house speaking with her suitor though theiron window-grill.

El fandango de candil ('Candlelit fandango'), described by the composer as a'scene to be sung and danced slowly and rhythmically', is suffused withnocturnal revelry.

Quejas, o la maja y el ruisenor ('Laments or the Maja and the nightingale'), basedon a folk-song from Valencia, is one of the most poetic pieces of Spanish pianomusic. Granados transforms the melody through a series of variations, each morehighly perfumed than the previous, culminating in a cadenza imitatingthe song of a nightingale.

El amor y la muerte - Balada ('Love and death' - ballade), a work of profoundrichness and dignity, both savage and mysterious, is possibly Granados'sgreatest individual composition. The title and inspiration are from one ofGoya's Caprichos. According to Granados: 'All of the themes of Goyescasare united in El amor y la muerte... intense pain, nostalgic love andthe final tragedy - death. The middle section is based on the themes of Quejaso la maja y el ruisenor and Los requiebros, converting the dramainto sweet gentle sorrow...the final chords represent the renunciation ofhappiness.'

Epilogo: Serenata del espectro ('Epilogue' - The ghost's serenade) is the onlypiece of the suite not incorporated into the opera. In Serenata del espectroGranados made use of Dies Irae, the Roman Catholic chant for thedead. At the conclusion the score indicates that the 'ghost disappears pluckingthe strings of his guitar.'

El pelele - Escena goyesca ('The straw man'- scene from Goya), inspired byGoya's painting of the same title, depicts a group of Majas tossing a straw maninto the air. This piece served as the opening scene of the opera.

Serenata goyesca ('Serenade in the style of Goya') is an unpublishedwork found in the Granados Archive, Barcelona. Although the manuscript isundated, most likely the piece was composed around 1909 as a preliminary sketchfor Goyescas. This is the first recording of Serenata goyesca.

This performance follows the critical edition of Granados's piano works,directed and revised by Alicia de Larrocha, prepared and compiled by DouglasRiva, published by Editorial Boileau, Barcelona, which presents Granados'smusic as the composer himself passed his music down to his principal discipleand foremost student, Frank Marshall, who in turn passed the Granados legacy toAlicia de Larrocha.

Douglas Riva

Item number 8554403
Barcode 636943440322
Release date 01/01/2000
Category Romantic
Label Naxos Classics
Media type CD
Number of units 1
Artists Riva, Douglas
Riva, Douglas
Composers Granados, Enrique
Granados, Enrique
Disc: 1
Serenata goyesca (Serenade in the Style of Goya)
1 Los requiebros (Flattery)
2 Coloquio en la reja (Dialogue at the Window)
3 El fandango de candil (Candlelight Fandago)
4 Quejas o la maja y el ruisenor (Laments or the Maj
5 El amor y la muerte (Love and Death)
6 Epilogo: Serenata del espectro (Epilogue: The Ghos
7 El pelele ( The Straw Man)
8 Serenata goyesca (Serenade in the Style of Goya)
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