Homage to Granados, icon of Spanish musical nationalism
THE CENTENNIAL of the death of Spanish composer Enrique Granados y Campina (1867-1916) was recently celebrated through the fitting concert, “Tribute to Granados,” at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Manila-born soprano Andion Fernandez and Spanish pianist Alberto Urroz were the featured artists.
The program consisted of piano works and songs penned by Granados and by two other Spanish composers, Federico Mompou and Manuel de Falla.
Highlight of the program was the world premiere of a new composition of Manila-born composer Jeffrey Ching.
Spanish Ambassador Luis Calvo warmly welcomed the audience.
It was sadly noted that Granados and his wife died when the English ship they were riding were sunk by a German submarine torpedo during the Great War.
Urroz showed seasoned pianism and a keen understanding of idiomatic styles in Granados’ transcription of Scarlatti’s sonata in G Major, K 520, which had been originally scored for the harpsichord, a simple baroque work. Granados re-worked it to sport a debonair expressive ambiance that the pianist ably projected.
Ching’s reworking of another Scarlatti piece was also performed. His transcription of Scarlatti’s Sonata K 108 and 109, which he christened “Sonata Domenica (Sunday),” sported a modernist garb that contemporized the work. The work was a homage to Granados who showed particular liking for the music of Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757), an Italian who settled in Spain and breathed the Iberian flavor in his works.
Ching avoided detachment and brought Scarlatti to his horizon, so to speak, a task Granados did when he brought Scarlatti to the romantic milieu he lived in. The result was a disclosure of Ching’s erudite ability.
Urroz played with gusto as he brilliantly brought out cogently the import of the works.
Love and death
Urroz changed gears in Granados’ ballade, “El Amor y la Muerte.” From the light, sparkling tone that he employed in the traditional and modern Scarlatti pieces, he shifted to the towering tone demanded by the work. His attacks were incisive, and he played with exquisite expressiveness.
Urroz essayed more arresting rhythmic undulations in the selected four pieces culled from “Danzas Españolas.”
Soprano Fernandez was very much at home and soared mightily with the songs she rendered: a set of miniature songs, and two song cycles.
Her voice had an added depth and earthiness, and was just perfectly honed for the pieces she sang. Her patrician bearing evoked a magnetic presence that at once got the attention of the audience.
The warmth and elegance of her voice ensured raptured listening. In Granados’ “little” songs, “Tonadillas,” she held the audience captive with the vivid dramatic import she endowed the songs.
In Mompou’s songs, Fernandez brought out the simple, folksy charm that combined French and Spanish sensibilities.
Electrifying was her rendition of De Falla’s “Siete Canciones,” which she sang with ardor and fidelity to the different styles the composer had employed, culled from all over Spain such as “Asturiana” and “segudilla Murciana,” for instance.
Her coloring of the lullaby, “Nana,” was simply arresting. Vengeance was eloquently conveyed in “Polo.” She showed a literate enunciation of the text and marvelous intonation of the melody.
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