Composers: Granados
Compositions: Goyescas
Performers: BBC Symphony Orchestra,
BBC Singers/Josep Pons
Catalogue Number: Harmonia Mundi HMM902609

In its piano version, Goyescas is the most enduring work of Enrique Granados (1867-1916), a series of studies based on Goya’s portrayals of the majos and majas of 18th-century Spain. Less well-known is its operatic version, a work in three tableaux that was well-received at the Metropolitan Opera in January 1916. It was sailing home via England following the premiere that Granados and his wife lost their lives when their ship was torpedoed by a German U-boat crossing the English Channel.

This new version of the opera from Harmonia Mundi is only its fourth recording and its predecessors are all out of print, so what does it offer? First, there’s a great deal of very fine music, much of it for orchestra and chorus. In fact, there’s so much of the latter that the wafer-thin plot – little more than a series of jealous tiffs – fades beside the choral chit-chat. That said, it’s attractive stuff, full of spicy Spanish inflections and clacking castanets (though not folkish like his compatriot Manuel de Falla).

The BBC forces under the expert guidance of Josep Pons, and in particular the magnificent BBC Singers, do the music proud in what is a decent, live recording from London’s Barbican. Soloists (the excellent Nancy Fabiola Herrera, Gustavo Peña, Lidia Vinyes Curtis and José Antonio López) are all acceptable, though it’s hard to grab the limited drama by the horns. CD seems the ideal format for this appealing curiosity.