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Granados: Goyescas / Yoonie Han

Release Date: 02/17/2017
Label: Steinway & Sons Catalog #: 30067
Composer:  Enrique Granados Performer:  Yoonie Han
Length: 0 Hours 55 Mins.

Inspired by the art of 18th c. painter Francisco Goya, Goyescas is perhaps the greatest work of Enrique Granados. Yoonie Han, a specialist in this repertoire, is a brilliant advocate for this evocative Suite that captures the art and musical styles of Spain.

------ The Goyescas of Enrique Granados, inspired by the spirit but apparently not by specific instances of the art of Francisco Goya, are common repertory works, but really satisfying performances of them are surprisingly rare. They require an elusive trio combination of delicate, almost Couperinesque ornamentation, introspective spirit, and raw power. Korean pianist Yoonie Han delivers in all three realms. She sketches the program of the music in her own
Read more notes, telling "a tragic tale of doomed lovers," and her playing, with every detail of the score fluently clear yet with a spontaneously improvisatory quality that would be called cinematic if that were not anachronistic. Sample the fourth Goyesca, Quejas, o la maja y el ruiseñor, which among other things carries a foreshadowing of the popular song Bésame mucho. The Steinway label, which seems to have a knack for this kind of fortuitous meeting of pianist and repertoire, delivers fine engineering in New York's Steinway Hall, and there are some interesting speculations on how the mood of the work derives from Spain's final fall from international prominence at the hands of rising America at the end of the 19th century. But ultimately, the beauties of this release are of the old-fashioned kind, generated by a meeting of technical mastery and deep understanding.

-- James Manheim, AllMusic Guide

I have a bit of a soft spot for Granados (1867-1916)--and the recent Naxos series recording many of his orchestral works (that I covered here a while ago) has given me much to appreciate. But whether or not one is a Granados convert one will likely take readily to his most famous work, the Goyescas for solo piano, a six-part suite that has been recently newly recorded by pianist Yoonie Han (Steinway & Sons 30067).

The music is all about Francisco Goya, the famous Spanish painter, and his work. Each movement depicts a scene from an imagined love story of a Spanish Majo (bohemian, mostly lower-class Spaniards of Goyas' time) and his would-be Maja.

The music was introduced in its original piano setting in 1911. He later crafted an opera out of its motives, which debuted at the Met in 1916. Granados and his wife attended. Their ship on the return voyage was torpedoed (it was WWI), and Granados died as he attempted to rescue his drowning wife. (Thank you to the liners for that. I did not know.)

The piano version of the work has enjoyed the love of music listeners since its premiere. It is an extremely lyrical and magnetic work that shows Granados' folk-Spanish, quasi-impressionist, melodic-harmonic gift as well or better than anything else he wrote.

The South Korean native Yoonie Han gives us a glowing reading of the music on the recording at hand. She embodies the flowing melodic presence, the grace and stunning phrasings of each movement with all the poetic nuance the work demands.

I've heard some ravishing versions of the Goyescas, but I must say that Ms. Han rivals the very best.

The recording quality is superb. The music sings on. Yoonie Han triumphs. This version makes me very happy. Need I say more? There is no better introduction to Granados than this.

-- Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review
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