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01 Sep 2000
Originally recorded in 1999
Potton Hall Studio, Westleton, Suffolk
Total Time - 78:33
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Iberia (Twelve New 'Impressions' in Four Books) Book One
El Corpus Christi en Sevilla
Corpus Christi in Seville
Iberia, Book Two
Iberia, Book Three
Iberia, Book Four
Nicholas Unwin presents his stunning rendition of Albéniz’s Iberia.
Iberia consists of four books, each comprising three sections and was described by Albéniz as ‘impressions’ and ‘scenes’ taking us on an aural journey of Spain.
Albéniz demands a high level of technical expertise in this work; the pianist who premiered Iberia tried, unsuccessfully, to get him to simplify extreme virtuoso sections. Nicholas Unwin easily meets these demands.
Iberia was the summation of Albéniz’s life’s work – he was to die only few months after completing the final piece of the twelve which make up this great piano cycle – and he might never have written it had he not heeded the advice of the Spanish composer and teacher Felipe Pedrell who pointed his way towards a ‘profoundly national and noble art’.
After studying while living in various places, Albéniz finally settled in Paris in 1893. France was regarded at the time as a second mother country to Spanish composers, more sympathetic and more welcoming than their own. It was during a period in 1900 when back in Spain that he conceived he idea of Iberia. He worked on it back in Paris and in Nice from 1905 and published it in four books, each containing three pieces.
Albéniz described Iberia as ‘impressions’ and ‘scenes’ of various parts of Spain, a sort of musical travelogue for the ear and the imagination, concentrated in Andalucia, the hot-blooded south from where the most recognisably ‘Spanish’ folk tradition comes. While he was undoubtedly inspired by the songs and dances of Spanish popular music the actual themes were all his own. This is folk art transformed into high art, raw experience distilled into mature reflection, and a lingering nostalgia is never far away as Albéniz works with infinite subtlety to create a sound world ultimately all his own.
‘Unwin offers clarity, atmosphere and eyebrow-raising technical expertise’.
Classic FM Magazine
‘Unwin is master of both the notes and their nationalistic message. His rhythms are taut, yet flexible; he brings out the gorgeous melodies without slobbering over them.’
American Record Guide
‘Unwin… is one of the most brilliant of the younger British pianists… His grasp of the music’s contrapuntal rigour and his feeling for the instruments contrasting shades repay repeated listening. Unreservedly recommended.’
The Sunday Times on CHAN 9468 (Tippett)
‘The recording is gorgeous in terms of its sound and, above all, in terms of this performance. Nicholas Unwin has both a steely touch and absolute fluidity, and he applies both as needed in exact amounts at the appropriate places.’
Fanfare on CHAN 9468 (Tippett)
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