GRANADOS: Spanish Dances
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12 Spanish Dances;Study
The tragic death of Enrique Granados on 24th March, 1916, whilereturning to Spain, deprived the country of one of its most talented composers.
The "Sussex", the ship he was travelling home on, was torpedoed by aGerman submarine between Folkestone and Dieppe, after the success in New York'sMetropolitan Opera House of his opera Goyescas. In fact, Granados andIsaac Albeniz, leading champions of nationalist and post-romantic currents,were responsible for launching Spanish music forward towards horizons ofunquestionable internationalism. Born in Lerida, on 27th June 1867, Granadosdied before his 49th birthday, at the height of his career.
Goyescas is his masterpiece, in its original form for piano, which he lateradapted into an opera. The piano-writing of this work succeeds in condensing awhole style of composing music, and with it the composer achieves a series ofcharacteristic pictures, pure romanticism in the style of Chopin or Schumann,his favourite composers, impregnated with a touch of Madrid, reflecting theessence of pictures by Goya, whom he admired to the point of successfullycopying his paintings, because painting was another passion of EnriqueGranados.
Another of his famous compositions is his collection of Danzasespanolas (Spanish dances), which is divided into four"notebooks", three pieces in each one of them, as with Albeniz'sSuite Iberia. The first one, bearing the title Galante, is a sortof bolero with a brilliant and elegant opening. With its clearly-markedmelismas, the second is called Oriental. Energico (with energy)characterizes the Fandango, the third of the Danzas Espanolas. Thefourth, which starts Cuaderno 2, is a unique piano composition, a Villanesca,of rural origin and directed by Granados to be played alla pastorale. Thefifth, the most famous work of the whole collection, is a monothematic danceand song showing initial sadness and languidness which later becomes moredramatic and brilliant. It is more often called Andaluza than Playera.
The sixth, the Rondalla Aragonesa, is a genuine jota withpopular song included. The seventh of the Danzas, the Valenciana orCalesera, opening Cuaderno 3, harks back to the force of theSpanish jotas, in this case those with roots in Valencia, and displays abrilliant economy of means. The eighth is a Sardana, with its specialrhythms, interpreted like a Catalan cobla. The ninth, with overtones ofChopin together with intrusions of the Tonadilla, has the title Ramantic,and suggests Spanish heel-tapping or zapateado Cuaderno 4 is openedby the tenth of the Danzas espanolas, the Melancolica, whosethree voices intertwine, with great skill, melody and accompaniment within thewhole. The eleventh is the Arabesca, reflecting a zambra orMoorish Festival, and the last, the twelfth, Bolero, is more thansimilar to the very Spanish dance giving it its title.
Estudio, a posthumous work published in 1937, marked Andantino espressivo, isreally an ingenious theme with free variation.
English Version by Keith Anderson