Spanish Classics - Rodrigo: Piano Music Vol 2 / Pizzaro

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RODRIGO Danza de la amapola. El album de Cecilia. Danzas de España. Sonatas de Castilla. Suite para piano. Cancíon y danza. Preludio al gallo mañanero. 3 Evocaciones Artur Pizarro (pn) NAXOS 8.557923 (72:02)

Artur Pizarro boasts a big, virtuoso technique and a full sound. It stood him in excellent stead when he recorded the three Kabalevsky piano sonatas for Collins Classics a decade or so ago. (Perhaps that recording will turn up on Naxos in due course.) Along with Pizarro’s strength comes clarity, even more crucial in Rodrigo’s piano music, which shares the open textures and harmonic piquancy of his concertos—the qualities that make them so easy to love.

Rodrigo’s solo piano works are mostly joyous and playful, not only in the childlike Album for Cecilia (the composer’s daughter), but elsewhere too. Exceptions are the early, Ravel-influenced Evocaciones , with their atypical scale passages and flourishes. Although a good pianist himself, Rodrigo soon pared back his style. In quieter movements, such as “Rustica”—the first of the three Spanish Dances —and the second Castilian sonata, the composer who immediately comes to mind here is Mompou.

The forthright Pizarro, helped by close piano sound, is a reliable and sensitive guide to this repertoire. This is the second (and final) volume in his Rodrigo series. ( Fanfare does not seem to have reviewed Vol. 1, but I could be wrong.)

Regarding the competition, there is a well-regarded double-CD set from Bridge, played by Gregory Allen, which I have not heard; it includes some pieces for four hands. The four major works on Pizarro’s disc also appear on a single CD selection by María Garzón (on ASV). Her pianism is smoother and more fluid, with a bit more light and shade at her disposal, although there’s very little in the comparison. Garzón’s Evocaciones are certainly more evocative. If it’s a consideration, Pizarro’s instrument is better tuned in the very high treble register, where Rodrigo spends a lot of time.

In short, this is an enjoyable and varied program, confidently performed.

FANFARE: Phillip Scott

Product Description:

  • Catalog Number: 8557923

  • UPC: 747313292325

  • Label: Naxos

  • Composer: Joaquín Rodrigo

  • Performer: Artur Pizarro