Garrick Ohlsson injects some much-needed Mediterranean light into this dark time of year with Granados’s pianistic masterpiece, Goyescas. Written in the first decade of the twentieth century, it’s a musical tribute to the great Spanish artist Francisco de Goya, under whose spell Granados had fallen as a young man. Filled with a patriotic fervour for what he saw as a universally great Spanish genius, he wrote several pieces inspired by the painter’s life and times. The six pieces that make up Goyescas are no mere tone-poems but instead draw on details from Goya’s works—notably the Caprichos, a sequence of aquatints that satirized (and outraged) Spanish society. They draw on Spanish folk music too, as in the famous dialogue between the Maiden and the Nightingale, complete with a trilling cadenza at the end for the nightingale.
Another product of Granados’s preoccupation with the painter was the exuberant El pelele, which recounts the tale of a straw man being tossed on a trampoline, while the Allegro de concierto forms a fittingly brilliant endpiece.