An essential package, containing as it does the two most indispensable masterpieces of the entire Spanish piano music repertoire, in performances which have long (and justly) been regarded as classics. The twelve "impressions" that comprise Iberia
occupied Isaac Albèniz for the last four years of his life (he completed the fourth and final set of three in January 1909). They form an exuberant, sun-drenched sequence, astoundingly virtuosic (Albèniz was himself a renowned pianist) and brimful with toe- tapping rhythmic verve and irresistible local colour. In his gorgeous Goyescas
(premiered in 1911, two years after Albèniz's death) Enrique Granados explores a more harmonically searching, wistfully introspective vein: the heavenly "Maiden and the Nightingale" (based on a folk melody) is deservedly one of the most popular of all 20th-century piano gems.
The great Barcelona-born pianist Alicia de Larrocha has been playing this music all her life and it shows time and again in the improvisatory imagination, pellucid tone-colouring and glitteringly idiomatic flavour of her intensely poetic and technically commanding readings. The remastered mid-70s recordings have come up as clean as a whistle, with all the heady bloom and admirable focus of the excellent original masters retained. Terrific value. --Andrew Achenbach