Miguel Baselga, Albeniz

Albéniz
Piano Music Volume 9
Miguel Baselga p
BIS BIS2173

The final disc in Miguel Baselga’s complete Albéniz cycle focuses on the Spanish composer’s salon music of the mid to late 1880s. Albéniz was in his 20s and establishing himself as a fixture of the Madrid music scene – teaching, gigging and composing to get by. With only three tracks breaching five-minutes, this is a CD of bite-sized works that – while charming – feel a tad jumbled taken as a whole. It’s a disc made as much for snacking as consuming in one go.

Baselga opens with Recuerdos de Viaje (Travel Memories) – a suite of pieces inspired by Albéniz’s extensive travels. These colourful vignettes are perhaps the highpoint of the disc, from En el Mar’s pianistic wave effects to the darkly swaying Granadina (a kind of fandango from Granada). Rumores de la Caleta (Murmers from La Caleta) is another highlight of this suite, translating the insistent bass-line and arcing arpeggio shapes of a guitar’s malagueña to the piano.

The Troisieme Minuetto, Menuet, Menuetto and Scherzo recall Mendelssohn, Schumann and Chopin, whose miniatures featured on Albéniz’s concert programmes. Baselga brings plenty of character to the pieces and they provide an elegant (if buttoned-down) contrast to the more boldly Spanish dances.

Tango lilts seductively in Baselga’s hands while the penultimate track is something special – a transcription of one of three sound recordings Albéniz made at a friend’s house in 1903. A quirky Polka brilliante closes the disc with a sparkle.