- 01 – Granados – Goyescas I. Los requiebros
- 02 – Granados – Goyescas II. Coloquio en la reja
- 03 – Granados – Goyescas III. El fandango de candil
- 04 – Granados – Goyescas IV. Quejas o la maja y el ruisenor
- 05 – Granados – Goyescas V. El amor y la muerte
- 06 – Granados – Goyescas VI. Epilogo (serenata del espectro)
- 07 – Mompou – Variations sur un theme de Chopin Tema – Andantino
- 08 – Mompou – Variations sur un theme de Chopin I. Tranquillo e molto amabile
- 09 – Mompou – Variations sur un theme de Chopin II. Gracioso
- 10 – Mompou – Variations sur un theme de Chopin III. Para la mano izquierda
- 11 – Mompou – Variations sur un theme de Chopin IV. Espressivo
- 12 – Mompou – Variations sur un theme de Chopin V. Tempo di Mazurka
- 13 – Mompou – Variations sur un theme de Chopin VI. Recitativo
- 15 – Mompou – Variations sur un theme de Chopin VIII. Andante dolce e espressivo
- 16 – Mompou – Variations sur un theme de Chopin IX. Valse
- 17 – Mompou – Variations sur un theme de Chopin X. Evocation – Cantabile molto espressivo
- 18 – Mompou – Variations sur un theme de Chopin XI. Lento dolce e legato
- 19 – Mompou – Variations sur un theme de Chopin XII. Galope y Epilogo
JAVIER NEGRÍN – TRACES
Granados | Mompou
The art of Francisco Goya blends human insight, unflinching truth, incisive satire and earthy passion, a combination which has bewitched countless people ever since the artist’s heyday. One fervent admirer of Goya was Catalan composer Enrique Granados. The Goyescas by Granados were inspired by his own tracings or sketches of Goya’s magnificent paintings, reproductions of which are featured in this CD’s artwork.
In the Goyescas, Granados fused the music of Spain, especially Castilian music, with traits from more remote origins, including the Italianate elegance of Scarlatti, who in turn had been enchanted by Spanish folk song. Reflecting Goya’s paintings, these pieces explore light and shade, love and death, ranging from playfulness to aching longing to simmering passion. Pianist Javier Negrín has long been fascinated by these works; both by the music and by the art which inspired them, and this fascination has informed his own interpretation of the pieces on this disc.
More rarely heard, Frederic Mompou’s wonderful Varations sur un thème de Chopin are deserving of a wider audience. While Granados embraces Goya’s palette in his vivid depictions, Mompou’s tracing is of a different kind: he draws musically on Chopin’s ideas, but on in his own, opaque paper. What emerges is an original account of Chopin’s music, presented in a different light.
Javier Negrín made his solo debut at London’s Wigmore Hall in 2004. A major prizewinner at the Royal College of Music, where he also held a Junior Fellowship, Javier has been the recipient of many awards, including prizes for the best interpretations of Schumann, Chopin, Brahms, and Ravel. Javier has been hailed by the critics as an intuitive interpreter with a strong intellectual prowess. His interests in music range from the Baroque to the 21st century, with a special affinity for the music of Bach and Chopin. He currently works in the music faculty of the Centro Superior Katarina Gurska in Madrid.
Booklet in English, Spanish and German.
Program notes by Joanna Wyld.
“Every now and then you come across a piece you didn’t know existed and wonder where it has been all your life. This is my reaction to encountering Mompou’s Variations on a Theme of Chopin, here played with elegance, beauty and affection by Javier Negrin.”
BBC Music Magazine - Jessica Duchen / October 2016
"Every now and then you come across a piece you didn’t know existed and wonder where it has been all your life. This is my reaction to encountering Mompou’s Variations on a Theme of Chopin, here played with elegance, beauty and affection by Javier Negrin. The theme itself is the simplest of the 24 Preludes, No. 7 in A major. Mompou, a still ridiculously underrated composer, uses it as a springboard for a series of 12 delicious transformations, beginning with softened, scrunchy, jazzy harmonies and leading on through a range of ideas including a waltz, a mazurka, a recitative and a reference to Chopin’s Fantasie-Impromtu. Negrin’s eloquence and refulgent tone does it proud, with a wonderful translucence to his colouristic sense.
The CD partners the Mompou with Granados’s Goyescas, six pieces of sultry and atmospheric soundworld inspired by the drawings of Goya; later the composer used these pieces as a basis for an opera of the same title. Again Negrin is alive to intimacy of expression, offering a particularly rewarding account of the most famous of the set, ‘The Maiden and the Nightingale’. He has a beautiful feel for the pacing of rubato and in both Granados and Mompou lets the quietest, most reflective passages pull their weight to the most powerful effect. Some of the Goya pictures are reproduced in the CD box, which is a nice touch. Recorded sound is suitably beautiful."
“La réalisation de Javier Negrín… possède plus de caractère et creuse plus profondément la noirceur des sentiments… Une version très attachante…”
“Javier Negrín’s realisation… has more character and digs deeper into the darkness feelings… A very endearing version…”
Diapason - Bertrand Boissard / July 2016
“La réalisation de Javier Negrín... possède plus de caractère et creuse plus profondément la noirceur des sentiments... Une version très attachante…”
“Javier Negrín’s realisation… has more character and digs deeper into the darkness feelings… A very endearing version…”
Javier Negrin, a Spanish pianist from the Canary Islands, has recorded Goyescas (along with Mompou’s Variations on a theme of Chopin) for the artist-owned label Odradek. Packaged superbly in a double fold-out digipack with booklet, Negrin has found his own way in Goyescas… his recording is every bit as well good as Perez’… at least one or more readings of this great score belong in your library… Why not this new version from Odradek?
Tom Deacon / August 2016
The Goyescas by Granados are both emotionally and physically exhausting for a pianist to play in public. Recording makes it possible to take a break between pieces, but in concert this is impossible, of course. Perhaps this is why in the old days Goyescas was left for a handful of pianists, mostly Spanish, while the majority just trotted out The Maiden and the Nightingale. Arrau played it, as did Myra Hess.
During most of my lifetime Alicia de Larrocha could be said to "own" the Goyescas, particularly on record. She recorded it five times after all, so her reading was inescapable. Back in the 1970s Thomas Rajna did a complete Granados cycle for CRD (now on Brilliant Classics), and Vox issued a complete edition with Marylene Dosse. Martin Jones recorded the opus for Nimbus. And there were isolated early appearances of Goyescas on record by Leopoldo Querol, Nikita Magalof, Francisco Rybar, Rena Kyriakou, Aldo Ciccolini and Jose Echaniz, not forgetting the really early version by Amparo Iturbi, of course. More recently is the following list of Goyescas pianists: Nicholas Zumbro, Lydia Jardon, Jean-François Heisser, Artur Pizarro , Anna-Maria Vera, Albert Guinovart, Felipe Ramírez, Michel Block, Teresa Escandon, Douglas Riva, Sebastian Stanley, Eric Parkin, Garrick Ohlsson, Hugo Monden, Hisako Hiseki, Patrick O'Byrne, Jean-Marc Luisada, Eduardus Halim, Cristina Ortiz, Edmund Battersby, Benita Meshula , Joop Celis and Bernard Job. Moreover, this list is surely not exhaustive.
It would be nice to say I have heard all these versions, but I simply have not. Some one would really have to hunt for. Others are perhaps more familiar names. But it must be said that most major pianists pretty much left this repertoire to Alicia de Larrocha in her lifetime. Today, one young pianist, Luis Fernando Perez, a Spanish Madrileno, actually studied with AdL and teaches today at her Frank Marshall Academy in Barcelona. His Mirare recording has been out for several years. It is, indeed, very good. Perhaps it would be my top recommendation for the moment, unless you are committed to AdL, of course. There you have one of her five versions to choose from, early (The 1950s American Decca mono, Hispavox stereo), middle period Decca analogue and Decca digital, and late RCAVictor digital. Each version has its special features. They are all, however, sui generis.
But now the situation is no longer so clear. Javier Negrin, a Spanish pianist from the Canary Islands, has recorded Goyescas (along with Mompou's Variations on a theme of Chopin) for the artist-owned label Odradek. Packaged superbly in a double fold-out digipack with booklet, Negrin has found his own way in Goyescas, more intimate than AdL, less rhetorical, and his recording is every bit as well good as Perez'. Luis Fernando is more dramatic in this music, more unabashedly heart-on-sleeve, passionate and romantic. Les deux sont bons! The choice then will depend upon one's taste here. For me, the companion repertoire might just clinch the deal, as I adore Mompou's music and this particular set of variations is not easily available outside complete Mompou boxes. One should also not forget the work of Jean-Marc Luisada, Jean-François Heisser, Artur Pizarro (superbly recorded by Linn Records), Cristina Ortiz and Garrick Ohlsson. None is Spanish-born, however, in case that makes a difference for you.
But at least one or more readings of this great score belong in your library. One of AdL's, and then your choice of the others. Why not this new version from Odradek?
“We have to thank the label Odradek for introducing this exceptional artist to a wider audience.”
Sven Godenrath / 29 September 2016
His playing is defined by a virtuosity that never comes across as being superficial; even in quiet sections he manages to lure dynamic differentiations in his touch from the instrument, which is immediately enthralling. We have to thank the label Odradek for introducing this exceptional artist to a wider audience. The two albums he released with Odradek, Traces and the Preludes of Scriabin, are technically and musically grandiose. Each miniature receives its own individual sound colour, and the way his interpretations are intellectually imbued makes both albums a special joy to listen to.
“[Mompou] is defiantly unshowy music, and Negrin understands the need for understatement, for restraint. The eighth variation may induce tears, so beautifully does Negrin handle it.”
The Arts Desk - Graham Rickson / 25 March 2017
“Enrique Granados’s Goyescas is yet another significant piano work inspired by visual art; Granados having collected Goya’s artworks for several years, completing this cycle of six pieces between 1909 and 1912. He aimed to suggest moods rather than offer literal musical depictions, so a crepuscular number like El fandango de candil reflects Goya’s striking use of light and shade, and the trills in Quejas o la maja y el ruiseñor depict the artist’s favourite nightingale. Pianist Javier Negrín has the music’s measure, compelling even when the music becomes daringly spare: there's a palpable chill in the air at the close of El amor y la muerte and the sequence’s throwaway closing gesture is wonderfully handled. Granados wrote of Goyescas as containing three great emotions: “intense sorrow, amorous longing and final tragedy”, and it's chilling to read an account the composer's tragic end in 1916, drowning whilst attempting to save his wife after his ship had been torpedoed in the English Channel.
Negrin couples the Granados with some Mompou, another neglected figure whose music really should be better known. His set of Variations sur un thème de Chopin is a readily accessible treat, Chopin’s A major Prelude prompting 12 short variations. Which, despite their Chopinesque contours, all sound utterly Mompouvian. This is defiantly unshowy music, and Negrin understands the need for understatement, for restraint. The eighth variation may induce tears, so beautifully does Negrin handle it. Time stands still at the close of the Epilogo. It’s glorious, and another ideal entry point into the music of this addictive composer.”
“… pointed and sensitively shaped reading… Negrín assiduously weaves the numerous tempo shifts, dynamic outbursts and reiterations of earlier themes into a fluid, fulfilling whole.”
Gramophone - Jed Distler / July 2016
“Granados’s Goyescas is more than a suite of piano pieces: it’s a road trip where one encounters a diverse succession of moods and landscapes. To guide the prospective pianist through terrains of notey and complex figurations, Granados provides copious markings that indicate subtle and specific tempo modifications, a wide dynamic palette and detailed expressive directives. Ignore them and you’ll find that the melodies won’t palpitate, the counterpoint won’t speak and the harmonies will lose one or two layers of sexiness.
The opening ‘Los requiebros’ brilliantly conveys sweeping exuberance and teasing coyness, contrasting qualities that are minimised by Javier Negrín’s headlong, generalised approach, especially in the way he skirts over the rapid filigree as if sweeping dust under a carpet. He captures the second movement’s brooding eloquence well but without the long-lined animation and idiomatically caressing rubato that Luis Fernando Pérez and Rosa-Torres-Pardo (DG download) brought to their respective recordings. Negrín fares better in his pointed and sensitively shaped reading of ‘La maja y el ruiseñor’ but his literal and occasional stiff handling of No 3’s fandango rhythms and the ghostly epilogue’s evocations of plucked guitar strings yield to Garrick Ohlsson’s more imaginatively inflected accounts. In the suite’s longest and most substantial movement, ‘El amor y la muerte’ (arguably Granados’s masterpiece), Negrín assiduously weaves the numerous tempo shifts, dynamic outbursts and reiterations of earlier themes into a fluid, fulfilling whole.
Although Granados’s standalone El pelele is traditionally included as part of Goyescas performances and recordings, Negrín offers instead Mompou’s gorgeous and witty variations on Chopin’s A major Prelude. In contrast to Alexandre Tharaud’s rippling surface elegance, Negrín probes with deliberation, notably in the 10th variation’s reharmonisation of the Chopin Fantaisieimpromptu’s central theme. The piano is recorded at close range, yet without losing tonal heft. In sum, Negrín’s Goyescas sometimes impresses, yet not enough to challenge recent contenders, let alone Alicia de Larrocha’s Decca benchmark.”
“Javier Negrin… underlines the Goyescas’ agony and ecstasy… revels in ﬁerectly ignited passions, playing as if his life depends on every note (try the Appassionata before the concluding Allegretto from ‘Coloquio en la reja’ where he sets the keyboard ablaze). In the ‘Epilogue’ he is again vivid and intense…”
International Piano Magazine - Bryce Morrison / November 2016
“Javier Negrin takes a radically different view of Granados and you could hardly accuse him of understatement as he underlines the Goyescas’ agony and ecstasy. At times overbearing, he revels in ﬁerectly ignited passions, playing as if his life depends on every note (try the Appassionata before the concluding Allegretto from ‘Coloquio en la reja' where he sets the keyboard ablaze). In the ‘Epilogue’ he is again vivid and intense, while for his encore he gives us Mompou’s Variations sur un theme de Chopin, where the A major Prelude’s brevity expands into a series of deeply affectionate memories. Mazurkas and Etudes surface through the haze of Mompou’s magic, while Variation No 8 is a reminder of Poulenc’s tendresse.”
“We are presented with the most beautiful and creative interpretation of Mompou’s work… The Goyescas follow the same pattern: serenity and calm before the avalanche; clarity of voices (everything is heard, but the dynamic ranges are perfectly shaped); and singing, much singing, as above all these Goyescas are played as though by a singer…”
Forumclasico.es - Gonzalo Pérez Chamorro / November 2016
"Javier Negrín has recorded Goyescas" will be the headline, since many will overlook the wonderful Mompou Chopin Variations which this pianist from Tenerife has decided to include after the colossal Goyescas cycle, influenced by the fact that both creators had an explicit inspiration on which these compositions were based: Goya and Chopin. We are presented with the most beautiful and creative interpretation of Mompou's work; creative because of the air of habanera from the Canaries that infuses Évocation (X) or the jazzy quality of Espressive (XI); and beautiful because of the sonority, the visionary expression of modernity (Recitative, XIII).
The Goyescas follow the same pattern: serenity and calm before the avalanche; clarity of voices (everything is heard, but the dynamic ranges are perfectly shaped); and singing, much singing, as above all these Goyescas are played as though by a singer, just as some arias by Rossini could be interpreted by a pianist. The emotion is enormous yet controlled; there is no emotional overflow that overwhelms; this is natural, effortless musicianship (it would be hard to find a more natural rendition of the Requiebros). Rhythmically they do not have the energy of Alicia, but their style is unique, luckily; distinct from that titan, who left three albums of this pictorial cycle. Odradek’s presentation, with drawings by Granados based on the Caprichos of Goya, is a delight.”