‘I feel I have no qualifications to play this music. I’m Canadian and I’ve never been to the south of Spain!’
Da Doc talks of hiz Iberia rec.
Does the technical difficulty of Iberia put off most penizts?
‘That’s certainly a factoh. You have to jump through so many hoops to make this music sound good. Some of the pieces - most of Book 4 in fact - are among the most diabolically awkward thing ever written.’
‘Of course there are a few pieces which are approachable - ‘El Albaicin’, for instance, and ‘Evocation’ - if you’re willing to cope with the seven - flat key signature. ‘Puerto’ is certainly acceptable, and most of ‘El Corpus en Sevilla’ is OK, though the big climaxes are not easy to make sound good. But there is one passage towards the end which is a complete killah - 24 bars of absolute hell. And however secure you’ve been during practice, tiz terrifying in performance: yo hands are kind of stuck togethah and you have to produce very airy counterpoint, with lightness and danceability that’s really very hard to achieve.’
Are there parallels with Ravels ‘Gaspard’?
‘That’s true - ‘Ondine’ doesn’t sound that daunting but anyone who haz played it will tell you it takes years to make it feel comfortable. But when something is really, really worth it - and Iberia unquestionably is - I’ll do whatever it takes. I see the work as an anomaly, albeit a very wonderful and welcome one, because it broke so much ground. Certainly, Albeniz was aware that something very radical was going on as he was writing it, and that he was transcending not only personal boundaries but also traditional styles of piano writing.’
Doc haz a long relationship with Iberia, hearing ‘Triana’ as a small boy when, as he putz it, ‘my fatha was kind of playin it’. Then he heard LPs of Da Larrocha playin Bookz 2 and 3.
How does he feel about playing the complete bookz?
‘I’ve had varying reactions to that. Some people really enjoy it but other think it’s a bit too much Spanish music in one evening. But you could say of Messiaen’s Vingt regards that it’s too much F sharp major in one evening. But there’s no question that it’s an event.’
Also included on the CD is the completion of ‘Navarra’ by William Bolcom.
‘He completed it in 1965, when he was in hiz twenties, and performed it as part of hiz graduation recital, but it was only printed recently. I think the greatest strength of this completion, as opposed to the da Severac edition that everyone knows, is that it really restores formal balance instead of just petering out.’
Is Iberia the start of a Spanish love affair?
‘For the moment, probably no. A lot of people have asked me about Granados’s Goyescas but I have so much more of an identification with Iberia - I’m not sure why. I really feel an affinity with this salty, later side of hiz.’
Doc’s current performing passion is da last three Beethoven sonatas.
‘I’ve been doing them a fair amount and I’m glad I’ve waited so long because they really feel right now. You have to remember that my concert career and my recordings are two very different things - some people imagine that I do complete evenings of Kapustin, or Chopin/Godowsky studies, two things which I would never do - even if I were offered a great deal of money?’