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The Best of Martin Jones: Discover Enrique Granados



Martin Jones has been one of Britain’s most highly regarded solo pianists since first coming to international attention in 1968 when he received the Dame Myra Hess Award. The same year he made his London debut at the Queen Elizabeth Hall and his New York debut at Carnegie Hall, and ever since has been in demand for recitals and concerto performances on both sides of the Atlantic. He is a prolific recording artist and his many major projects include the complete solo piano works of Mendelssohn, Brahms, Debussy, Grainger, Stravinsky, Korngold, Szymanowski, Granados, Guastavino, Mompou, Ernesto Halffter, Joaquin Nin, Has Gál, Jean Françaix, Jean Roger-Ducasse, and Alan Richardson.

 The Best of Martin Jones: Discover Enrique Granados


Granados is best remembered, and rightly so, for his marvellous piano suite Goyescas, composed shortly before his early death, and one of the pinnacles of Spanish piano music. However, he had a long previous career, which included composing several operas, some chamber music – the piano quintet and piano trio are particularly attractive – and a great deal of piano music, a selection of which appears here. Granados was himself an excellent pianist, much given to improvisation and to embellishing the works he was scheduled to play to an enormous extent. Much of the music on this disc sounds to me like improvisations which he has written down: there are simple tunes covered with a plethora of notes and occasional bravura passages to show off speed and skill.

The choice of works here seems to be based simply on what the pianist Martin Jones thought would appeal most after excluding Goyescas. That is a bit like Hamlet without the prince, but listeners who already know that masterwork may well be curious as to what preceded it. Jones is a consummate pianist with an enviable facility. He has a large recorded repertoire, including a great deal of Spanish music, and this recital is in fact selected from his complete cycle of Granados’s piano music.

So we have bravura pieces such as the opening Allegro de Concierto and two of the Escenas románticas, dreamy nocturnes such as Elisenda, which features bell sounds, or the following Berceuse and the brooding ‘Winter’. Some of the pieces remind me of Liszt’s evocations of landscapes in the Swiss book of the Années de pèlerinage, such as the Landscape and some of the Escenas poeticas II. Interestingly, the earlier Escenas románticas generally show a simpler and more varied texture than the other works here, and I particularly like the dramatic Lento and the dreamy interlude in the Allegro appassionato.MusicWeb-International