Composers: Granados
Compositions: Goyescas
Performers: Alexander Boyd p
Catalogue Number: Claudio Records CR6039-2

Australian-born pianist Alexander Boyd is steadily working his way through the Spanish piano repertoire and building up an impressive discography along the way. His recording of Albéniz’s Iberia was released by Claudio Records/Naxos in 2017 and nominated for a Grammy, and now he turns his attention to Enrique Granados’s Goyescas, and there’s every reason why Boyd should be expecting another nomination.

I have an early mono recording of Alicia de Larrocha and a 2012 reading by Garrick Ohlsson – both wonderful in their different ways – and this latest disc measures up to both very well. Boyd seems to have a special affinity and painterly touch for this colourful and attractive music. However, sadly for some reason he does not include El Pelele (The Straw Man) – written a little later than the other six but often performed with them.

Francesco Goya is probably best known for his nightmarish “Disasters of War” prints and his so-called “black paintings”, but there is also plenty of sunlight, character and splendour in his other work that chronicled the life and times of 18th-century Spain. Granados was captivated by Goya’s art at a retrospective exhibition in Madrid’s Prado museum in 1897, at a time when Spain had been humiliated in its war with America and was seeking to forge a new national identity. He saw Goya as the quintessential Spanish painter and the two books of Goyescas evoke a lot of the charm, beauty and passion of the artworks.

The music is irresistible, from an evocative fandango by candlelight to a ballad of death and love or the cinematic image of a twisting conversation through a lattice window between a majo and his maja. Boyd’s next recording project will explore the Fandango and Tarantella, to be followed by Debussy’s two books of Préludes. Judging by this delightful album they will be something to look forward to.