King Lemuel | Puyallup, WA | 03/27/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Since no one has chimed in, I thought I would be the first.
First of all, here is the "about the Album" from the EMI website:
ABOUT THE ALBUM
One of the greatest of late 20th-century pianists and certainly the most celebrated of all modern Spanish players, Alicia de Larrocha (born in Barcelona in 1923) became virtually synonymous with the music of two composers: her compatriots Isaac Albéniz (1860-1909) and Enrique Granados (1867-1916). No pianist has equalled let alone excelled her in the twin peaks of Spanish Romantic pianism brought together in this 2-CD set: Iberia (Albéniz's vivid `impressions' of the sounds and rhythms of his homeland) and Goyescas (Granados's `Goya-like pictures' of `youth in love'). Alicia de Larrocha recorded these works more than once, yet her earliest complete recordings - made originally by Hispavox, issued on LP by Erato and then on CD in 1992 by EMI Spain - rank among her greatest achievements and were made at a time - the late 1950s and early 60s - when she was a still young virtuoso pianist able to meet every outsize demand made by these scores.
Here is my take:
The performances in this double EMI GROTC CD stereo recordings date from the late 50s to early 60s. This double CD covers every track on De Larrocha's mid 70s London recordings that have been released as a "Double Decca" CD album. I did a side by side comparison of 6 or 7 tracks between these two double CD albums and in each case the recorded sound was far superior on the EMI GROTC double CD. The tone of the piano is just gorgeous and it sparkles on the EMI CDs while it seems to have a somewhat less lustrous sound on the Double Decca release. This fact alone sold me on the EMI. Her performances on each CD album are just fine, but I do like the soulful way she plays on the EMI album.
The 1977 London "Granados Goyescas" LP (CS 7009) with De Larrocha has 7 tracks. Only 6 of these 7 tracks are on the Double Decca. Left off was track 7 El pelele 4:32. The LP liner notes state, "El pelele (The Strawman), though not formally connected with the piano suite Goyescas is usually coupled with it, as it is the opening music from the opera." There is plenty of room for this little prelude so it is a curious decision that Decca made not to include it. EMI did include it. The EMI album includes one other track not on the Double Decca: disc 2 track 11 Azulejos 8:30.
Bottom line: the EMI release covers the same music as the Double Decca plus 2 more tracks (13 minutes) and, IMO, has noticeably better recorded sound.
Besides these differences, if you are a De Larrocha collector, these two CD albums will give you the chance to hear a great pianist interpretation of this music at different stages of her career.