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Composer: Albéniz, Isaac (1860-1909)

Fact file
Year of birth1860
Year of death1909
NationalitySpain
Period20th century
May 2018
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Evening performance
Matinee performance
Upcoming eventsSee more...

RigaBolero

Bolero
Ravel, de Falla, Albéniz
Trio Art-i-Shock; Guna Šnē; Agnese Egliņa; Elīna Endzele

LondonThe Soul and Spirit of Nations

The Soul and Spirit of Nations
Paganini, Albéniz, Bowen, Haydn, Martinů, Dvořák

BarcelonaJavier Perianes: Chopin, Falla and Albéniz

Chopin, Guinjoan, Albéniz, de Falla
Javier Perianes, Piano

LondonJavier Perianes: Chopin, Albeniz and De Falla

Javier Perianes: Chopin, Albeniz and De Falla
Chopin, Albéniz, de Falla
Javier Perianes, Piano

OxfordCraig Ogden & Friends

Coeck, Hope, Boccherini, Hindson, Albéniz, Piazzolla
Craig Ogden; Jack Liebeck; Alexander Sitkovetsky; Alexandra Raikhlina
Latest reviewsSee more...

Hakhnazaryan at Wigmore: a riotous jig with a touch of class

Narek Haknazaryan © Marco Borggreve
Hakhnazaryan’s programme was rich with meaty music.
*****
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Long on refinement, short on sparkle: Nelson Freire in Gstaad

Nelson Freire © Miguel Bueno
Freire convinces in Bach, but soft attack and heavy pedal use make for flat renditions of romantic works.
**111
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An evocation of Spain in lunchtime Manchester

The Katona Twins © Peter Goodbody
The Katona twins guitar duo conjured up the many moods of Spain and South America in a lunchtime recital of music by Falla, Albéniz, Granados and Piazzolla.
****1
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Bach doyen shows off her Romantic mettle

Angela Hewitt © Bernd Eberle
Angela Hewitt: formidable de Falla and sensual Albéniz made up for overwrought Scarlatti at the Royal Northern College of Music.   
****1
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From the refinement of Mozart to the passion of Spain

Evgeny Kissin © Felix Broede | EMI
Kissin's always stellar recital highlighted by a selection of works from Spain.
****1
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Biography

The music of Isaac Albéniz typifies a purely Spanish style of romantic music, in which classical form is present, but the most important part is played by gypsy and moorish influences and a feel for the musical traditions of Spain.

Albéniz was a child prodigy extraordinary even by the standards of Mozart and Mendelssohn: he first performed in public at the age of four, and passed the entrance exam to enter the Paris Conservatoire at the age of seven, although, the legend goes, he was thrown out for breaking a window with a ball on the day of the exam. He had published his first piano work, Marcha Militar, by the age of eight. He studied in Madrid and then briefly in Germany (at the Leipzig Conservatoire): his ambition was to study with Liszt but he only managed a brief meetings with him in Budapest. Like Francisco Tárrega, he was unhappy and ran away from home several times, making a living by playing piano in bars.

Albéniz's last major work, Ibéria, is considered his masterpiece: it is a four volume set of twelve pieces for piano which encapsulates the music and traditions of Spain. But his most performed piece is Asturias (Leyenda) from his earlier Suite Española - although not in its original form. The original was written for piano, but is now a staple of the classical guitar repertoire in any of a large number of transcriptions by Tárrega, Segovia and many later guitarists. Asturias works so well for guitar that it is hard to imagine it ever having been a piano piece, and indeed, Albéniz himself is said to have preferred the transcription to his own original.

Albéniz's legacy was to legitimise Spanish music with a musical establishment to whom a German/Italian classical form was the one true faith. Since the roots of Spanish music came from moorish and gypsy styles with rhythm, harmony and counterpoint which have little in common with the church and dance music of the rest of Europe, it was an extraordinary achievement from an extraordinary musician.

David Karlin
14th December 2008