Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Alicia de Larrocha

I am so pleased to have finally found a recording of Alicia de Larrocha performing the Adagio Assai of Maurice Ravel's Piano Concerto in G Major. This is by far my favorite version of this wonderful score. Previously I have posted versions of the same by Martha Argerich (which remains my second favorite and who first introduced this haunting score to me years back when I was still in middle school). Leonard Bernstein is out of his league amongst these talented ladies.

Alicia de Larrocha y de la Calle (23 May 1923 – 25 September 2009) was a Spanish pianist from Catalonia. Reuters referred to her as "the greatest Spanish pianist in history" and Time called her "one of the world's most outstanding pianists". The Guardian called her "the leading Spanish pianist of her time". She won multiple Grammy Awards, a Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts and is credited with bringing greater popularity to the compositions of Isaac Albéniz and Enrique Granados. In 1995, she became the first Spanish artist to win the UNESCO Prize.

Born in Barcelona, she began studying piano with Frank Marshall at the age of three. Both her parents were pianists and she was also the niece of pianists. Beginning her career at the age of three, she publicly debuted at the age of five at the International Exposition in Barcelona. She performed her first concert at the age of six at the World's Fair in Seville in 1929, and had her orchestral debut at the age of 11. By 1943, she was selling out in Spain. She began touring internationally in 1947, and in 1954 toured North America with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. In 1969, de Larrocha performed in Boston for the Peabody Mason Concert series.

Alicia de Larrocha died on 25 September 2009 in Quiron Hospital, Barcelona, aged 86. She had been in declining health since breaking her hip five years previously. Her husband, the pianist Juan Torra, with whom she had two children, died in 1982.

To complete the piano concerto, this is the 3rd movement entitled, Presto, played live by her accompanied by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

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