FEBRUARY 2015, Raquel del Val: Paisajes de Espana Piccolo PC214FEBRUARY 2015, Raquel del Val: Paisajes de Espana Piccolo PC214
By RAY PICOT
The music on this well-thought-out disc by the Spanish pianist, Raquel del Val, was recorded live in the concert hall at Leon in 2008 (she teaches at the university), with only the barest detectable audience noise, until we reach the much deserved final applause. The piano sound is quite resonant but with a good dynamic range. I have not seen this pianist but away from her teaching (she also has a Law degree!) Raquel del Val has a very natural approach to the music and avoids over-interpretation, with readings that have a wide range of colour and spontaneity. I tend to dip into CDs but this plays through very well and is very warmly recommended. It would be interesting to hear some studio recordings, nevertheless you get a good idea of her approach from the Youtube videos online. The CD is published in Spain with untranslated booklet notes but is readily available to download.
So to the music, the programme, described as The Landscapes of Spain is something of a musical travelogue, which judiciously avoids the cliched and the obvious, with only the merest glimpses of Albéniz and Granados, in the guise of their respective Jota aragonesa and Vascongada, which, though not part of the composers’ mainstream, are delightful and played a with plenty of élan. The first of the two musical tourists featured (again avoiding the obvious), the American Louis Moreau Gottschalk, dashes off a typical quicksilver, Recuerdos de Andalucía, and the second is the French composer and music critic, Henri Collet. His music seems to have fallen from favour but his two Flamencoconcerti, written respectively for piano and violin make worthwhile listening. His piano suite, Album sobre España, written over a century later than Gottschalk in 1945, is typical of his romantic stylised Spanishry. The four numbers are enjoyable and whilst not of the first order, Raquel del Val gives them a real lift interpretively.
Listening to Joaquín Rodrigo’s delightful Cuatro piezas españolas, reminds one of how versatile a composer he was and how well he wrote for the piano. This suite has plenty of the composer’s sunny charm and character, which is nicely brought out, and contrasts well with two less well-known pieces dating from 1930/1 by Joaquín Turina. The Tarjetas postales seems unjustly neglected and comprises five short pieces evoking a wide range of local colour in the composer’s inimitable manner. Radio Madrid is a curiosity and seeks to convey a radio broadcast complete with students and broadcasters. The suite nevertheless is not unattractive and is cleverly written.
Pedro Blanco (1883 - 1919) wrote mainly piano music and his attractive Fiesta Maragata is played mid-recital and with great affection by Raquel del Val. The music of Joaquín Larregla seems to have been largely forgotten in recitals, which is a shame as we end with the exuberant Viva Navarra (you'll recognise the tune!) and Zapateado, which appear two of his better-known pieces. Whilst undemanding on the ear they are played with great flair and perfectly end an entertaining recital.
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