| BUSCOT PARK THEATRE Chamber Music
At age 43 Granados wrote in his diary: 'Finally I have had the
good fortune to write something important - Goyescas'. Subtitled Los majos
enamorados ('The Majos in Love'), Goyescas was published in two books, the
first in 1909-1910 and the second in 1913-1914, along with a separate piece El
pelele: Escena goyesca, traditionally considered as apart of Goyescas. The work
is possibly unique in that the suite was subsequently transformed by the
composer into an opera.
Goyescas, the title meaning
Goya-esque or Goya-like, is highly unusual in the complex nature of its
inspiration. Through the influence of writer Fernando Periquet, Granados became
inspired by the Spanish painter Francisco Goya (1746-1828). Granados drew
inspiration from the painter's ability to depict what Granados saw as the
essence of the Spanish character. It was the atmosphere, the people and the
details of their lives within the context of Goya's Madrid, which spoke to
Granados. He explained his fascination in a 1910 letter: '
I fell in love
with the psychology of Goya and his palette
that rosy-whiteness of the
cheeks contrasted with lace and jet-black velvet, those jasmine-white hands,
the colour of mother-of-pearl have dazzled me
one of the truly great effusions of Romantic pianism and one of the most
important Spanish keyboard works. Goyescas is a cyclical suite unified by
thematic material and by its brilliant colour. Its jewel-toned harmonies,
violent mood swings, and post-Romantic fervour led the critic Ernest Newman to
describe Goyescas as '...the finest piano music of our day... a gorgeous treat
for the fingers
' giving the performer and listener alike the '
voluptuous sense of passing the fingers through masses of richly-coloured
jewels'. Indeed, the work is a formidable challenge for the performer - its
complex passagework and rich texture require a virtuoso level of pianistic
Los requiebros ('Flattery'), inspired by Goya's
Capricho, Tal para cual, was written as ajota, a dance-form from Goya's native
Aragón. Los requiebro, is a set of variations based on two phrases of an
eighteenth century tonadilla, Tirana del Trípili, by Blas de Laserna.
In Coloquio en la reja - Dúo de amor ('Dialogue at the
window' - love duet) Granados creates a mood of veiled mystery filled with
romantic yearning depicting a lady inside her house speaking with her suitor
though the iron window-grill.
El fandango de candil ('Candlelit
fandango'), described by the composer as a 'scene to be sung and danced slowly
and rhythmically', is suffused with nocturnal revelry.
Quejas, o la
maja y el ruiseñor ('Laments or the Maja and the nightingale'),
based on a folk-song from Valencia, is one of the most poetic pieces of Spanish
piano music. Granados transforms the melody through a series of variations,
each more highly perfumed than the previous, culminating in a cadenza imitating
the song of a nightingale.
El amor y la muerte - Balada ('Love
and death' - ballade), a work of profound richness and dignity, both savage and
mysterious, is possibly Granados's greatest individual composition. The title
and inspiration are from one of Goya's Caprichos. According to Granados: 'All
of the themes of Goyescas are united in El amor y la muerte... intense pain,
nostalgic love and the final tragedy - death. The middle section is based on
the themes of Quejas o la maja y el ruiseñor and Los requiebros,
converting the drama into sweet gentle sorrow...the final chords represent the
renunciation of happiness.'
Epílogo: Serenata del
espectro ('Epilogue' - The ghost's serenade) is the only piece of the suite
not incorporated into the opera. In Serenata del espectro Granados made use of
Dies Irae, the Roman Catholic chant for the dead. At the conclusion the score
indicates that the 'ghost disappears plucking the strings of his
El pelele - Escena goyesca ('The straw man'- scene from
Goya), inspired by Goya's painting of the same title, depicts a group of Majas
tossing a straw man into the air. This piece served as the opening scene of the