Lisbon-born Artur Pizarro grew up hearing this music by two masters of keyboard composition from the other side of the Iberian Peninsula. His performances breathe with the natural ease of long familiarity. The pianist’s lyrical gracefulness with Goyescas remind us that Granados ultimately refashioned the material as an opera; it’s as if Pizarro is singing when he sensitively shapes the melodic line of “Quejas, ó la Maja y el Rusiseñor,” the fourth piece in the suite. Pizarro is equally persuasive with the twelve numbers that make up Iberia, demonstrating convincingly that this is Impressionism on a par with Debussy and Ravel. The soloist vividly evokes Spanish sights and sounds, never calling attention to the considerable technical demands of the piano writing.
We have here an ideal matching of artist, repertoire, and instrument. Pizarro goes on in his liner notes about his choice of piano for the recording, a newly made Blüthner concert grand. The sonority is slightly sweet, bell-like (without being the least bit tinkly), and tactile—“good old wood-on-wire sound” is what the artist calls it—allowing for a wealth of nuanced coloration. Linn’s surround production delivers a corporeal representation of the piano that’s inviting and present.